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Pos Bloc Jakarta Cultural Heritage Building Revamped!

Pos Bloc Jakarta Cultural Heritage Building Revamped!
Photos: Freddy Wally

IO – Having been renovated in mid-October 2021, a former Dutch colonial edifice known as the “Jakarta Philatelic Building” was remodelled into Pos
Bloc, the newest public creative space in Jakarta. Minister of State-Owned
Enterprises (SOE) of Indonesia Erick Thohir offcially announced this latest community center in Jakarta. Several government offcials, including the Deputy Minister of SOEs Kartika Wirjoatmodjo, President Director of PT Pos Indonesia (Persero) Faizal Rochmad Djoemadi, President Commissioner of PT Pos Indonesia Rhenald Khasali and CEO of Pos Bloc Jakarta Jimmy Saputro also joined the ceremony.

Inaugurated during the COVID-19 pandemic, the opening ceremony of Pos Bloc Jakarta was thoughtfully organized in the Main Hall of Jakarta Philatelic Building, Central Jakarta, on October 10, 2021. During the ceremony, Minister Thohir mentioned the signifcant transformation of PT. Pos Indonesia in this digital and millennial era. “…I encourage PT. Pos Indonesia to update in an intelligent manner for the younger generation and in accord with the wave of sweeping digital and property changes that are now seen in Indonesia,” he added to his remarks.

Pos Bloc Jakarta Cultural Heritage Building Revamped!
Photos: Freddy Wally

Post Telefon en Telegraf as it was once called—designed by the famous
Dutch architect JF Von Hoytema from 1912 to 1929—was the main post office of the Dutch colonial government, built to meet the needs of business correspondence and communication for merchants and the kingdoms of Europe and Java. The colonial architecture, dating from 1860, is in fact one of the oldest business assets remaining form the Dutch colonial era; thus, the building is doubtlessly one of the oldest post offices in Indonesia.

A Commendation for outstanding performance of the Defense Minister

A Commendation for outstanding performance of the Defense Minister
President Joko Widodo and Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto. Photo: DOC. IO

IO – MoD Prabowo Subianto has secured several outstanding achievements since being appointed as Defense Minister in President Joko Widodo’s current Cabinet. Adi Prayitno, a political observer at UIN Syarief Hidayatullah Jakarta, said that Jokowi, as the President is popularly known, has put MoD Prabowo in the right place. “All these achievements show that President Jokowi’s decision to appoint Prabowo as Defense Minister has put the right man in the right place,” said Adi.

Adi noted that one of MoD Prabowo’s standout achievements is the formation of the Armed Forces Reserve Component (Komcad), which is mandated in Law No. 23/2019 concerning Management of National Resources for National Defense (UU PSDN).

First of all, the Komcad formation by MoD Prabowo is impressive because the UU PSDN was passed in the era of Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu when MoD Prabowo’s party – the Gerindra Party – was not in the administration. This program had also been discussed since the presidency of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY), the 6th President of the Republic of Indonesia, but never came to fruition.

Secondly, the Defense Ministry under MoD Prabowo successfully established General L.B. Moerdani Modular Hospital in Merauke, Papua,
in just 20 days, to handle COVID-19 and support the celebration of the 20th National Sports Week (PON XX) in the easternmost province of Indonesia.

Prabowo also converted several training facilities of the Defense Ministry in Greater Jakarta into COVID-19 emergency hospitals, at the onset of the second wave of COVID-19 in Indonesia.

Third, Prabowo effectively bagged a manufacturing license for the stateof-the-art frigate Arrowhead 140 from a British manufacturer, Babcock International. These warships will be produced by PT PAL, a state-owned
shipbuilder, and armed with surface and air missiles.

This effort is in line with President Jokowi’s directions to capitalize defense spending into investment. The goal is to prioritize Indonesia’s defense industry, so the country can directly transfer its technology. “This achievement also confrms a number of survey results that place MoD Prabowo as the best Minister for Kabinet Indonesia Maju. It is not surprising that his electability remains stable and high,” he added.

According to the Executive Director of Indonesian Political Parameters, these achievements cannot be separated from Prabowo’s expertise in manifesting Jokowi’s expectations and his longstanding experience in
the military, covering more than two decades. “If we look closely, MoD
Prabowo seeks minimal publicity and rarely makes comments to the
media during his tenure as Defense Minister. Well, that was paid for with his various achievements,” he explained.

Apart from these remarkable achievements, Adi perceives how
the relationship between President Joko Widodo and MoD Prabowo
Subianto has become more cordial. He believes that the two political
elites want to convey a message to the public. “When these two leaders unite, they can create a positive moral effect in society, assuring the world that the country is stable,” Adi said.

He reveals that there have been several recent occasions revealing the camaraderie of President Jokowi and MoD Prabowo, one of which was
the establishment of a Reserve Command (Komcad), which was held just
a while ago.

Adi said MoD Prabowo also accompanied the President when inaugurating the L.B. Moerdani Hospital in Papua. Not long before that, the Minister also assisted Jokowi on his working visit to Central Kalimantan to check vaccination progress and inaugurate the Balikpapan-Samboja section of the new Balikpapan-Samarinda toll road. They also inspected an artifcial canal, which will serve as a waterway to the country’s future capital city in East Kalimantan.

“Jokowi looked comfortable and relied on MoD Prabowo on several
occasions. Prabowo seemed to show his respect to Jokowi as his chief,” he said.

Adi highlights that Jokowi appears satisfed with MoD Prabowo’s performance as Defense Minister. He said this was evident from Jokowi’s attending the Komcad appointment from beginning to end. Reciprocally, MoD Prabowo’s support for Jokowi’s policies is also evident in the COVID-19 management, the establishment of the new capital city and the formation of Komcad, which is a legacy of Jokowi’s frst administration.

Thus, Adi asserts that MoD Prabowo, the Chairman of the Gerindra Party, should be seriously considered in the 2024 Presidential Election. “MoD Prabowo’s experience and achievements in the Defense Ministry will surely complement the public perception of him,” he concluded. (Dessy Aipipidely)

Worsening Inequality and Pro-Investor Policies

Worsening Inequality and Pro-Investor Policies
By Gede Sandra, economic analyst at Universitas Bung Karno

IO – Expenditure inequality, described by Statistics Indonesia (BPS) as a Gini ratio, has increased from 0.381 (March 2020) to 0.384 (March 2021). In urban areas, this has spiked from 0.392 (March 2020) to 0.401 (March 2021). This means that people are spending less of their income.

The Gini ratio mostly applies to the poor, who do not have savings, but not to the über rich, upper- or middle-class consumers.

Why? Because for the rich, reducing their expenditures does not mean they are getting poorer. It may in fact mean that they are saving more. This can be confirmed by third-party funds (DPK) which during the pandemic actually increased by 6.5 percent year-onyear. This suggests that the actual
inequality rate may be an undercount.

The fact is, poverty is rising, while at the same time the wealthy are becoming richer. According to BPS, the number of poor in March 2021 increased by 1.1 million over the previous year’s number. The total poor population stands at 27.5 million citizens (based on a poverty line set at Rp472,525/capita/month).

On the other hand, the “rich population” has also increased. According to Credit Suisse, the number of Indonesians with a net worth of $1 million jumped 61.7 percent in 2020, to 171,740 individuals. Meanwhile, the über-rich, with a net worth exceeding $100 million, are recorded at 417 individuals, up by 22.3 percent from 2019.

What really takes place in society is a refection of government policies. So, if inequality is getting worse, the poor are getting poorer and the rich are getting richer, this is a natural consequence of the Government’s own policymaking.

The main cause of inequality is the fiscal policy undertaken by the Indonesian government, in this case Finance Minister Sri Mulyani, who is too pro-investor, rather than pro-people. My term for this is NKRI or the Unitary State of the Republic of Investors.

For example, the government is mulling a second round of tax amnesty, even though we can clearly see which side won the first round– investors and tax-evading big conglomerates. If this is to be repeated, what mind-boggling nonsense!

For investors, the Government also dished out various fscal stimuluses: coal royalty waiver (for downstream), a luxury tax exemption for car purchase and yachts, lower corporate income tax rate (from 25% to 20% for non-publicly listed companies and from 20% to 17% for publicly-listed companies), relaxation of import income tax and corporate income tax payments. These are all the Finance Minister’s policies.

In the banking sector, Government policies are also tilted toward
investors and entrepreneurs. According to the Financial Services
Authority (OJK), as of July 2021, Rp779 trillion in loans had been
restructured. Meanwhile, the National Economic Recovery (PEN)
funds, mostly allocated to support businesses, increased to Rp699.4
trillion in 2021, from Rp575.8 trillion in 2020.

Furthermore, in the Job Creation Law, investors and entrepreneurs
also received multiple incentives. The “meat” of the law is an automatic contract extension for mining companies, the decision of which is supposedly determined by the state. The “fat” is relaxed requirements for
food importers; while the “entrails” is the abolition of workers’ rights, which will only beneft factory owners.

Taken all together, the government has afforded plenty of facilities to investors and the rich. Meanwhile, for ordinary people, there are only higher tax and service charges: a plan to increase Value-Added Tax (VAT) from 10% to 12%, cigarette excise tax to 12.5%, plans to impose VAT for educational services, electricity price increase, fuel price hike, plan to tax basic foodstuffs. All these, piled up, even though we know the lives of many people have severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. So, we should not be surprised if the poverty rate continues to climb alarmingly. (Gede Sandra)

Prime Park, PP Properti’s latest hotel venture in Lombok

Prime Park, PP Properti’s latest hotel venture in Lombok

IO – PT PP Properti Tbk (PPRO) is opening the Prime Park Hotel &
Convention Center in Lombok under its hotel business management unit, PP Hospitality, at the end of 2021. Based on a “Business Leisure” concept, the hotel construction is a modern uptake on Lombok-style architecture and interior design. It is located at Jalan Udayana No. 16 Mataram, right across from the West Nusa Tenggara Regional Provincial House of Representatives Building. This is a suitable location for its target market of business people; meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions (MICE);
travelers, and families.

Prime Park Hotel & Convention Center Lombok’s General Manager Arie Septayudha explains how the Hotel’s various facilities can accommodate its guests’ needs: “We are a 4-star hotel strategically located right in the heart
of Mataram city. We have close access to cultural, culinary, and religious tourism spots, as well as other points of interests. We have 158 rooms in five types: Smart Room, Deluxe Room, Triple Deluxe Room, Suite Room,
and Presidential Suite Room, as well as a Ballroom with a capacity to seat 1,500 people. You can access this for MICE events, or weddings, birthday parties, and other social events,” he said. “We serve various Indonesian dishes here, naturally with Lombok dishes being our specialty in our Kunyit Restaurant and Sky Dining Restaurant. Both restaurants also serve Western dishes, if your taste runs that way. We have a rooftop swimming pool with a view of the lovely Ampenan Beach, with its amazing sunsets. We are a suitable place for individual travelers and families to relax. To round up your staycation, you might want to make use of our gym and spa.”

Prime Park, PP Properti’s latest hotel venture in Lombok

Tresye Cathelia, PP Hospitality’s Corporate Human Resources Manager, stated that as a business unit of PPRO managing the latter’s hotels, her company offers many job opportunities for Millennials. “Prime Park Hotel
& Convention Center Lombok is proof of the Company’s commitment to develop its assets in Lombok while supporting the region’s tourism and providing job opportunities for its Millennials. We offer a friendly atmosphere characteristic of Indonesia as the essence of our hotel services as well as a key to success in the hotel business,” she said.

BerAKHLAK, the key in transmuting civil servants

BerAKHLAK, the key in transmuting civil servants

IO – BerAKHLAK. It is a statement of core values, an abbreviation of Berorientasi Pelayanan, Akuntabel, Kompeten, Harmonis, Loyal, Adaptif, dan Kolaboratif (“Service-Oriented, Accountable, Competent, Harmonious, Loyal, Adaptive, and Collaborative”). It is based on the Islamic/Indonesian concept of “berakhlak (baik)” or “having (good) akhlak”, i.e. embodying good and honorable behavior, based on belief in the Divine ruling of Allah.

RI’s President Joko Widodo previously launched the BerAKHLAK Core Values and the employer branding slogan for civil servants “Bangga Melayani Bangsa” (“Proud to Serve the Nation”) on 27 July 2021, in order to revive offcials’ spirits and give them something to aspire to in their service to the State and the people. The values should also serve as a base of reference on daily attitude and behavior.

Acting in line with these core values means that civil servants
provide superior-quality service to the people. It means that they
are responsible for the tasks and duties entrusted to them, that they are dedicated to and prioritize the interests of the people and the State. It means that they care for one another, respect each other’s differences, and build good synergy at work. It means that they constantly learn and develop their personal capabilities, that they constantly innovate and that they are enthusiastic in moving change forward as well as in facing innovations.

BerAKHLAK, the key in transmuting civil servants

Future civil servants should fully understand the philosophy behind “BerAKHLAK” and “Proud to Serve the Nation” even before they take the entry test. “All individuals who want to become civil servants should instill these core values and this slogan into their hearts, so that they can implement them both at work and beyond work in their daily lives,” said Ministry of Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform Deputy of Civil Servant HR Alex Denni in the middle of his inspection of the Civil Servant Basic
Competence Selection 2021 held in Cijantung, Jakarta, on Saturday (16/10/2021).

As the engine that moves bureaucratic transformation and reforms, the Ministry has the all-important role of inculcating the idea of BerAKHLAK and Proud to Serve the Nation in order to mold individual civil servants into optimal providers of service to the people and into role models for
their colleagues and the common people. These ideas should mold
civil servants to be more adaptive and adjust according to changes
in technology. Furthermore, the filling in of civil servant positions
now does not just consider what position is empty in the organization, but also considers the acquisition of talented workers that will
strengthen the identity of “civil servants”.

“We want people who have the capacity to express and achieve the
expectations of their Organization. They must perform in such a way
that helps to achieve the Organi

zation’s objectives, willing to continuously learn and develop their
competence to support Organizational strategies, and act according
to the Organization’s culture and BerAKHLAK. We only want civil servants who we recruit to be able to establish strong employer branding among the people,” Alex said.

These core values and employer branding can only be called successful when civil servants’ work culture transforms into one with strong motivation, creativity, dedication, capability, and commitment. “Work culture” is individual and group attitude and behavior based on the values that they believe in, and that have become part of their characteristics and daily habits, both at work and outside of it.

Wormdome green house, a winning zero-waste cultivation method

Wormdome green house ,a winning zero-waste cultivation method
Announcement of the 2021 Himakua Paper Competition winners.

Bogor, IO – The team of Hidayatush Sholihin and Ziadatunnisa Ilmi Latifa
from IPB University won first place in the Himakua Scientifc Paper Competition held by Sriwijaya University, Palembang ,South Sumatra 14, October .Under the guidance of Fajar Maulana ,lecturer of the Faculty of Fishery and Maritime Sciences ’Department of Aquatic Cultivation, they developed the idea of a“ wormdome greenhouse” in the integrated multi-tropic aquaculture( IMTA )scheme, as an effort to utilize cultivation process wastes.

The system adopts an interlocking natural process where nothing is wasted“: By integrating the cultivation of catfish ,tubifex worms ,and aquaponics vegetables, a wormdome green house has both organic and zero waste characteristics .The organic matter produced by cultivated catfish is converted into biomass by the vegetables and worms using our feeder filter system ”,said Fajar as quoted by on Monday.(18/10/2021) “Our team’s innovation allows for high productivity in fishery with environmental sustainability”.

30 college student teams from all over Indonesia participated in this online competition, which seeks collegial innovation for developing our fishery potentials during the COVID 19-pandemic.

“The pandemic has reverted trading schemes, from global to local. This reversal includes foodstuff production: every country in the world attempts to secure food stocks for their own domestic use. Luckily, Indonesia as a major maritime country has a lot of aquatic area available,” Hidayatush said. “Lately, fshery production, especially cultivation fishery, has been growing greatly. Our current productivity per hectare of land is much better than what it was 50 years ago. However, this high productivity causes a new problem in that organic waste is produced at the same
rate as organic products. If we let this slide, this waste may threaten our environment through problems such as algae explosion or upwelling of lakes. This is why we came up with the idea for the wormdome greenhouse.” (est)

Musdah Mulia, Indonesia’s foremost Islamic woman scholar and the influences on her thinking (Part III)

Musdah Mulia together with her husband Prof Dr Ahmad Thaib Raya who lectures at UIN Jakarta in the field of interpretations of the Hadiths. Photo courtesy of Musdah Mulia

IO – Siti Musdah Mulia is the most well-known Muslim woman scholar in Indonesia. She has written the Compendium of Islamic Law which is now used at Harvard Law School’s program in Islamic Law. She has been the deputy secretary general of Muslimat which is the women’s organization under Nadlatul Ulama or NU that is not only the large Muslim organization in Indonesia but in the world. She is also the recipient of numerous international awards including, the American Women of Courage Award, the Yap Thian Hien Human Rights Award, the Nabil Award for promoting unity in diversity and many more.

In trying to understand what has helped to create and shape a woman like Musdah Mulia, parts I and II of this article have addressed her personal and cultural background. Part III of this series, will attempt to describe some of the thinkers and scholars who have influenced her in her world weltanschaung and her interpretation of Islam.

Musdah Mulia (centre) seated together with various religious leaders in Sarajevo in 2013. Photo courtesy of Musdah Mulia

Musdah Mulia’s concept of Islam is essentially a set of guidelines provided by God for mankind to find peace. She notes that the Quran is quite clear as to why man was created. It says that mankind was placed as God’s viceroy on earth; meaning that mankind has a duty to manage life on earth in such a manner that the world becomes a better place for the next generation. Musdah says, “The next generation should not experience disasters because of our actions.”

Musdah Mulia was brought up in the Buginese tradition as a Muslim. Her father was a member of the hardline Darul Islam group that wanted to create an Islamic state in Indonesia where Sharia Law would be applicable. Her mother however, was more tolerant in her religious views and loved the pesantren or Islamic community life created in religious boarding schools. Meanwhile, her grandfathers interpreted their beliefs quite differently to her father. On her mother’s side her grandfather was an NU cleric. In its Islamic practice the NU is very tolerant of local traditions. Her paternal grandfather on the other hand, was a leader of the Naqshbandiyah order which is a Sunni order of Sufism.

Musdah acknowledges that although she loves the Sufi path and the life of discipline, and can spend hours finding inner peace through a form of meditation when she visits her village in South Sulawesi, nevertheless she is not a member of any Sufi order. “I was brought up in a diversity of Islamic traditions, since I was little.” she says. “Some of the people around me were strict in their interpretations while others were less so. My conclusion was that God created a diversity of people, and each person is given the duty to do good in their own way.”

In 2001, Musdah Mulia (centre back row) was the only woman invited to attend the ASEAN Islamic Leadership Conference in Kuala Lumpur. Photo courtesy of Musdah Mulia

Musdah Mulia’s interpretation of Islam is a very tolerant, compassionate and rational one although she is also attracted to some aspects of Sufism. She is very compassionate towards minorities and even looks at Islam from a feminist perspective. She believes that interreligious marriages should be allowed and that Muslim women do not have to wear hijabs, although she wears one herself. She also believes that LGBT people should be treated with compassion and that their human rights should be protected. Who are the thinkers and scholars that have influenced her the most? She mentions four people.

Prof Dr Harun Nasution was the rector of the Universitas Islam Negri or State Islamic University abbreviated to UIN (at the time it was still known as the Institut Agama Islam Negri or IAIN) Syarif Hidayatullah and the Universitas Negeri Jakarta. The North Sumatran was born in Pematangsiantar in 1919 and was an Islamic philosopher and scholar who graduated from the Moderne Islamietische Kweekschool in 1937 and later continued his studies at the University of Al-Azhar in 1940 and then at the American University of Cairo in 1952. In 1968, he obtained his doctorate from McGill University in Canada. He was not only a pioneer for Islamic higher education but also one of the initiators advocating Islamic reform in Indonesia, which is why after his death in 2010 the auditorium at the UIN Syarif Hidayatullah was named after him.

Prof Dr Harun Nasution, the former rector of IAIN Syarif Hidayatullah in Jakarta influenced Musdah Mulia’s way of interpreting Islam. Photo credit: Perpustakaan Nasional Republic Indonesia – Khastara collection

Harun Nasution promoted his teachings through the Faculty of Theology at UIN Syarif Hidayatullah. He extended the aspects of Islam that needed to be studied to include history, civilization, philosophy, mysticism, theology, law, institutions and politics. He taught that interpretations of Islam are born in certain societies at certain periods of time in accordance with the conditions of that society then. The teachings and interpretations of one society during a certain period may not suit another, or even suit that society itself at a different time. He developed a rational approach in education with an understanding of Islam and culture that was moderate. During Harun Nasution’s time regular discussions were held for the lecturers which after an 8-year hiatus have been revived, as they play an important role in theology and reform and keep theology alive.

In 1982 he became director of post-graduate studies at IAIN Syarif Hidayatullah. It was as a post graduate student that Musdah Mulia came to know him and says that the most important thing that she learned from him was not just to approach an understanding of Islam through religious texts but also by looking at them in the social and political context of the times. “For if we do not, we may lose their essential moral religious message,” explains Musdah. “The Quran was sent to mankind to make us more humane and to create a universal humanism and we must never lose sight of that essential purpose.”

Nurcholish Madjid and Gus Dur at a book discussion in 1998. Photo credit: CakNunDotCom, CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons .org/licenses/by-sa/4.0), via Wikimedia Commons

The second scholar who very much influenced Musdah Mulia, was Nurcholish Madjid, an Indonesian Islamic intellectual and academician who was born in 1939 in Jombang, East Java, who served as rector of Paramadina University. Musdah Mulia also came into contact with him during her post-graduate studies at UIN Syarif Hidayatullah. Later, she worked with him at Paramadina University and also in interfaith dialogues. “What I learnt from Nurcholish Madjid was the importance of diversity and pluralism in religion. He, himself had not always been of that view. In the beginning he held a far less tolerant view of Islam and it was only after he studied under the renown Pakistani American scholar, Fazlur Rahman while completing his PhD at the University of Chicago that his views began to change.”

Fazlur Rahman who died in 1988 was a Muslim scholar and philosopher who was a modernist and a reformer, especially as regards educational reform and the revival of independent reasoning in Islamic theology. Nurcholish was known for the phrase, “Islam Yes. Islamic Party NO”. This was to allow Muslims to feel free to vote for religious or non-religious parties during elections. Nurcholish died in 2005.

Sutan Takdir Alisjahbana also inspired Musdah Mulia. Photo credit: copyright with Yayasan Sutan Takdir Alisjahbana

The third scholar who influenced Musda Mulia was Sutan Takdir Alisjahbana who was a good friend of Harun Nasution. Takdir was a philosopher, sociologist, linguist, novelist and academician who contributed greatly to the creation of an Indonesian national language and culture. He also wrote on using values for creating better societies and more complete human beings. In his lectures at the UIN post-graduate studies program he brought his philosophical and sociological perspective to the study of Islam.

Musdah Mulia recollects how Takdir used to joke during his lectures but only she would laugh and he commented on the lack of humour in the class. Musdah says that it was probably a consequence of the pesantren upbringing of most of the students, where laughter was not encouraged. She remembers writing a long analysis of his philosophical novel Grotta Azzurra.

Amongst the scholars who have influenced Musdah most in her approach and thinking she mentions one woman, Annemarie Schimmel, a German Islamic scholar.

Picture of Annemarie Schimmel in the Bonngasse in Bonn. Photo credit: © Axel Kirch / CC BY-SA 4.0 (via Wikimedia Commons), CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Annemarie Schimmel was a Harvard professor who was an Orientalist specializing in Sufism. She was born in 1922 in Erfurt, Germany. At the University of Berlin she studied Jalaludin Rumi, later becoming a professor of Arabic and Islamic studies at the University of Marburg with a doctorate in the history of religions. After that Schimmel taught history of religion at Ankara University for five years, being the first woman to do so there; then set up a program in Indo Muslim studies at Harvard where she was a professor for over 25 years. She spoke more than seven languages and wrote over 50 books and hundreds of articles on Islamic literature, mysticism and culture. Noted Sufi leaders acknowledged her as one of the foremost experts on Sufism. She received numerous international awards for her work but became controversial when she defended Muslims against Salman Rushdie in an interview. Later she defended her position in a speech entitled ‘A Good Word is Like a Good Tree’ when she received the Annual Peace Prize of the German Book Trade.

Musdah first came across Schimmel’s works during her postgraduate studies, and explained that Schimmel was an expert in mysticism in Islam, through Sufiism. She studied the great Sufi teachers in Islam such as Ibn Arabi who was a 12th/13th century Andalusian Muslim poet, mystic and philosopher. Musdah says that what attracted her to Schimmel’s writings is that in her book ‘My soul is a woman : the feminine in Islam’ she explored the equality between men and women in Islam looking at such things as the Quran, and the feminine language of the mystical tradition. Musdah says, “God is neither feminine nor masculine but has both qualities. Based on Sufi works, Schimmel proposed the view that in religion God identifies himself more through feminine rather than masculine qualities via such traits as love, compassion, peace and mercy – and I found that very interesting and attractive. This is what drew me very much to her writings.”

Musdah Mulia at Mount Abu in India with leaders of the Brahma Kumaris in 2015. Photo courtesy of Musdah Mulia

The final influence on her world view and interpretation of Islam says Musdah are the many conversations that she has had both with Islamic leaders and people from all over the world, as well as with non-Muslims. Since 1998 she has visited over 44 countries. “It is the interfaith dialogues I have had, that have shaped me,” she declares. “For example in Palestine I discovered that the Palestinians are people of many faiths and that they are not struggling to establish an Islamic state but one that embraces all its religions. There are Palestinian Jews and Christians who do not agree with Israel’s policies in Palestine and also struggle for an independent Palestinian state. On the other hand, there are Arabs who prefer to live in Israel where there is not constant conflict for in Palestine the different factions do not seem able to act as of one accord.”

Musdah Mulia now heads the Indonesian Conference on Religion and Peace or ICRP which is a branch of the World Conference on Religion and Peace or WCRP. Gus Dur as Indonesia’s 4th president was affectionately known, used to head the ICRP. Musdah Mulia was already close to him since the time she was secretary general of Fatayat. She became active in the ICRP in 1999 and took over its leadership in 2005. It was however, when she worked in the foreign affairs section of the Indonesian Ministry of Religious Affairs that she visited most of the 44 countries. She says that the most important issue facing millennials today is ensuring that tolerance is an important part of their worldview. Musdah confirms, “The situation today does really draw millennials towards tolerance. The government does not promote tolerance when it is not clear in its policies and firm in implementing the law with regard to instances of intolerance.”

Musdah Mulia’s Mulia Raya Foundation trains and educates millennials on tolerance. Photo courtesy of Musdah Mulia

So, she is very active in training and educating millennials in the values of Islamic reform. For this, she established the Mulia Raya Foundation in 2015 to reach out to millennials both online through social media, as well as offline through meetings and training, “At the end of the day peace is mankind’s most beautiful dream and war benefits no one,” she says passionately. “Unfortunately, too many millennials do not yet understand this.” (Tamalia Alisjahbana)

Turkey’s Neolithic Heritage refects the dawn of civilization

Turkey’s Neolithic Heritage refects the dawn of civilization
Tourism Minister HE Mehmet Nuri Ersoy at the Launch Event. (Photo: Dokumentasi TGA)

IO – The Republic of Turkey’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the Turkey Tourism Promotion and Development Agency (TGA) have recently unveiled Tas Tepeler, a new archaeological discovery from the Neolithic
period. Turkey’s vital excavation project involves researchers and academies from eight universities and institutes, originating in five different countries. The Sanliurfa region is the main location for archaeologists to work fully, until 2024.

The excavation project is being carried out by the scientifc committee and the Sanliurfa Museum Directorate under the Directorate General of Cultural Assets and Museums of the Ministry of Culture and Turkish Tourism. The project covers seven areas throughout Turkey: Gobeklitepe, Karahantepe, Gurcutepe, Sayburc, Akmaktepe, Sefertepe and Yeni Mahalle hills.

Announced publicly at a symposium, “Refections of the Neolithic in the World” in Sanliurfa on twenty-third September 2021, the excavation and discovery of Tas Tepeler is considered a valuable contribution to science, mainly about humanity and prehistoric civilization. This discovery reveals new facts for humankind, at time when human history was profoundly transformed, evolving from a hunting and gathering era to agricultural settlement, also known as the Green Revolution.

Turkey’s Neolithic Heritage refects the dawn of civilization
Tourism Minister visiting the site with the Excavation Director. (Photo: Dokumentasi TGA)

Researchers and archaeologists consider Tas Tepeler a place where
shelters became permanent dwellings, beginning some 12,000 years ago. Fiefdoms and political territories were emerging; stratifed society was
formed and simplifed trade began.. The monumental megalithic structures in the area are concluded to be communal spaces where people gathered.

Tourists and travelers coming to Turkey can now visit Tas Tepeler, especially the Karahantepe excavation site. The fnds are displayed at the
Archaeological Museum of Sanliurfa in several exhibitions, “Karahantepe
and Neolithic Human Exhibition.” Karahantepe will be the center of
the excavation, with more than 250 visually stunning T-shaped megalith blocks. As Karahantepe, Turkey previously registered Gobeklitepe in the UNESCO list of protected world heritage.

Turkey’s Neolithic Heritage refects the dawn of civilization
Karahantepe Archeological Site. (Photo: Dokumentasi TGA)

Turkey’s Minister of Culture and Tourism, Mehmet Nuri Ersoy, who attended the Karahantepe excavation site, noted that the excavations
reveal the signifcant contribution of Anatolia to the history of humankind.
He also said, “Besides Karahantepe, excavation will also begin in residential mounds of Ayanlar, Yogunbur, Harbetsuvan, Kurttepesi, and Taslitepe, as a part of the frst phase of the Sanliurfa Neolithic Research Project, which will last from 2021 to 2024,” as quoted by various local media.

The Tas Tepeler excavation is temporarily open for visitors and researchers, with strict safety protocols enforced. There is no quarantine upon arrival needed in Turkey. However, to visit Turkey, completing a Travel Entry Form before departure and bringing a negative PCR test result taken within 72 hours are compulsory. (Freddy Wally)

Zoo Reopened! Fun Cycling at Gembira Loka

Zoo Reopened! Fun Cycling at Gembira Loka
Photo : Mia Kamila

IO – Gembira Loka Zoo Yogyakarta is now open, after temporarily being
closed, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and mobility restrictions. As of this writing, only visitors above 12 years of age are allowed to enter the zoo.

Gembira Loka Zoo management has launched a new program, Sports Zoo. Not only can visitors enjoy the sight of nature and animals in their habitat, but they can also have relaxing walks, engage in exercises, and go cycling.

The zoo offers interaction with animals, cycling along bike paths, feeding the animals, and enjoying cool fresh air under the leafy green trees.

Mountain bikers can also explore the “city forest” inside the zoo. Marketing Manager of Gembira Loka Zoo, Yosi Hermawan, explained that the Sports Zoo program was inspired by the rise of active living and outdoor physical activities during the pandemic. Yosi highlighted that the Gembira Loka Zoo is an attractive choice for both locals and tourists to engage in outdoor sports, mainly for its spacious area (up to 20 hectares).

Zoo Reopened! Fun Cycling at Gembira Loka
Photo : Mia Kamila

Visitors can do all sports with outdoor facilities,” said Yosi at Gembira Loka, Yogyakarta, Thursday (10/7/2021). The Sports Zoo program is on the weekends, every Saturday and Sunday, from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. “Regular zoo visits start at 10, so there is a break time for visitor changes,” he explained.

For only IDR 100,000 per ticket, visitors get to enter the zoo and ride a rent-free bike and only IDR 75,000 if you provide your own. The ticket includes boat paddling in the lake, zoo train ride tickets, and breakfast at the zoo cafe (within a day reservation only).

Although the zoo was temporarily closed, the animals are still well-cared for. The management treated the animals well despite no visitations. (Mia)

Prof. Bimo: “COVID Third Wave is not fated – it’s preventable”

Prof. Bimo: “COVID Third Wave is not fated – it’s preventable”
We need to maintain discipline in mask-wearing and physical distancing to avoid catching the virus. Photo: RAYI GIGIH/IO

IO – It’s already October. Recalling the First Wave of COVID-19 infection in
December 2020/January 2021 and the Second Wave in July 2021, a lot of people are consumed with worry that a Third Wave will occur in our Homeland at the heels of the Christmas 2021/New Year 2022 holidays.
The First Wave infection peaked on 30 January 2021 with 14,518 positive infections, while the Second Wave peaked on 15 July 2021 with 56,757 infections. Will a Third Wave occur? And if so, how many will get infected?

“The Third Wave is not fated, it’s preventable. As long as we implement these three important aspects, Insha Allah, Allah willing, it will not occur: first, we need to prevent the entry of new variants by closely watching the
border and the traffic of people entering and leaving our country. This is the Government’s duty. Second, we need to ensure that as many of our citizens as possible are covered by vaccination by performing two million
vaccinations a day. Third, we need to improve our mask-wearing and physical distancing discipline, currently at 75%,” said Prof. Bimo Ario Tejo, Associate Professor at Universiti Putra Malaysia, in a live IG talk held on
Tuesday (12/10/2021).

Prof. Bimo reported that the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (“IHME”) believes that even though the coverage of second dose vaccination in Indonesia is 28.04%, the actual infected population in our country is actually 30% or 78 million people. “IHME data shows that during the Second Wave, the number of peak infections was not 56,000, but 800,000. With such a high number of people already exposed to the disease, we can almost be assured that Indonesia will not suffer a Third Wave. On the contrary, we are now in a transition from the pandemic to become an endemic, meaning that we must continue to live our everyday lives with COVID-19, because
the virus still exists. If you are vaccinated, no matter what brand you are
vaccinated with, you will suffer much milder symptoms even if you get infected in the end,” he said.

In order to survive an endemic, we need to have drugs and vaccine. However, no drug is suffcient to treat COVID-19 even now. Despite claims
that Monlupirafr is found to be effective against the disease and even though the neighboring countries Singapore, Malaysia, and Australia have ordered amounts of it for distribution, it is actually not that effective. After all, you must already consume this drug before the patient suffers heavy symptoms. Furthermore, it is extremely expensive at IDR 10 million for five days’ worth of dosage.

“So to elaborate, as soon as one is tested positive for the disease, one must consume the drug for fve consecutive days. This does not guarantee that you will not suffer it again later. And if you’re tested positive again, you must repeat consumption at the same dose, even though we all know that repeated consumption of a drug will cause the drug to accumulate in the body and cause worse long-term effects on the body than any vaccine
can ever cause. All components of a vaccine will be flushed out of the body within days, two months at most, leaving only the antibodies and memory cells that the body needs for immunity. Vaccines are simply safer and more effective,” Prof. Bimo said.

Separately, Sonny Harry B. Harmadi, Head of the COVID-19 Mitigation Task Force’s Behavior Change Division, declared on Wednesday, 13 October 2021 that it is precisely because malls are tentatively reopened and various activities are now allowed again that we need to further strengthen health protocols to avoid infections. “More vaccination to cover those who have not gotten it yet, and stronger mask-wearing, disinfectant using and implementing physical distancing discipline,” he said. (est)