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Indonesia in mourning: Xanana Gusmao bids a tearful farewell to B.J. Habibie …

Xanana Gusmao, first President of Timor Leste, stands in grief and prays at B.J. Habibie’s gravesite, TMP Kalibata, Indonesia Heroes Cemetery, last Sunday. Xanana came to convey Timor Leste’s condolences. (photo: IO/Yoga)

IO – After the death of former Indone­sian President B.J. Habibie a video went viral on the internet showing Timor Leste’s first president, Xanana Gusmao kneeling at the sickbed of former Indonesian President Habibie. Xanana speaks to Habibie and then kisses his forehead. Habibie reaches out to place his hand around Xa­nana’s neck, drawing him down to hug him. Xanana then leans over and places his head on Habibie’s chest and they remain in that posi­tion for a few minutes, reminiscent of a father with his son laying his head on his father’s chest. See:

President Habibie passed away peacefully of heart failure on the 11th of September 2019 and many ques­tion why Xanana came and why the two leaders who were formerly at war with each other were hugging each other, and as though it were, for the last time.

Xanana Gusmao arrived in Jakar­ta on Saturday the 14th of Septem­ber for the third day of the mourning period at Habibie’s house where the Habibie family were holding 40 day prayers, he was received by Habibie’s eldest son, Ilham Habibie. The next morning Xanana with the Timor Leste Ambas­sador to Indonesia, H.E. Alberto X.P. Carlos and members of the Timor Leste community visited the Indone­sian heroes’ cemetery in Kalibata to pay their respects at Habibie’s grave. They prayed and layed flowers on the grave. Xanana took his time and was extremely patient in providing photo-ops for the dozens of journal­ists gathered there, and who were very insistent in questioning Xanana about the video. Xanana however, refused to be drawn into answering merely repeating, “I believe that at times facts speak more loudly than words and I think that in this case I need not explain what happened that day. Facts are more expressive than words, no? My words are really not relevant here….”

Timor Leste Ambassador Alberto Carlos explained that the scene on the video had taken place, “At the RSPAD (army) hospital on the 22nd of July 2019 when Pak Xanana and I went to visit Pak Habibie. We had intended to visit President Habibie at his residence to invite him to Timor Leste to attend the 20th anniversary of the Timor Leste referendum and the inauguration of the B.J. Habibie Bridge. When we heard that he was admitted to hospital we requested permission to visit him there instead. When we arrived and Pak Xanana saw Pak Habibie’s condition, he was so saddened that he knelt beside the bed and began to cry and kissed him.”

So, are those the facts that Xa­nana Gusmao was referring to? Or would exploring the facts further back to the last century help in better understand what happened between Xanana and Habibie. Here is what I know and experienced in those years:

Xanana Gusmao was at the sickbed of B.J. Habibie in July of this year. He came to invite Habibie to attend Timor Leste’s 20th Commemoration of the Referendum and the inauguration of the B.J. Habibie bridge. (photo: courtesy of YouTube)

I was at the home of Aristedes Ka­toppo, editor-in-chief of Suara Pem­baruan newspaper back in 1996 or 97 when Maria Pakpahan, a political activist who later became a member of the Central Board of the PKB, Gus Dur’s National Awakening Party, ap­proached me and asked me wheth­er I would like to accompany her to Cipinang Prison where many of the political prisoners of that era were be­ing detained and give some support for Nuku Sulaeman, a student of the Universitas Nasional (popularly abbreviated to UNAS) where my father Sutan Takdir Alisjahbana had been rector for many years. Nuku was serving a prison sentence of 5 years for spreading a political joke about Soeharto. I agreed to go and give the former UNAS student support.

On visitors day at the Cipinang prison the inmates were always gathered in one great hall and I was introduced to prisoners ranging from the PRD (Partai Rakyat Demokratik or People’s Democratic Party – it was not a parliamentary party) lads such as Budiman Sudjatmiko and Wilson, to Mochtar Pakpahan the labour leader, to Colonel Latief who was accused of being involved in the murder of the generals in 1965, Sri Bintang Pamuncak and Xanana Gusmao.

Cipinang had a two kilometer cir­cumference with gardens and fish ponds where the prisoners cultivat­ed fresh water fish and grew vege­tables except for Wilson of the PRD who insisted on growing flowers. The Communist prisoners later placed a sign over his garden quoting Mao Zedong, “Let a hundred blossom bloom”. At certain times the fish were harvested and the prisoners and their families would have a big fish fry. Xanana bred ducks.

I became a regular Sunday visitor and slowly came to know the pris­oners including Xanana Gusmao who since his capture was to serve 7 years before the fall of the Soeharto government and Reformasi released him. What I quickly realized about Xanana was that he was a highly in­telligent man with an extremely sharp analytical ability. His twenty years as a guerrilla fighter was proof not only of a physically tough and courageous man but also one who could make his way around the jungle and sur­vive despite the lack of food and med­icines.

Cipinang was a five-star pris­on and people were eager not to be transferred to other prisons – which was one of the punishments for mak­ing trouble. Prisoners were not beat­en or tortured there and those who had access to funds could have the wardens buy food for them to cook or materials for hobbies or handicrafts for them to sell. Xanana liked to paint. One day he promised to paint pictures for Maria Pakpahan and my­self. When I received my painting, it looked rather bleak: an isolated piece of drift wood full of knobs and whirls in shallow water. “It looks so lifeless and without hope,” I told Xanana when I next saw him and he began to tell me about himself. “Just because a thing looks dead does not necessar­ily mean it is dead,” he began. “You know I was just an ordinary person when the war began. I had no par­ticular political views. I joined the Fretilin because all my friends were there. After a while I sat on the cen­tral committee but I was low in rank. However, within 6 years everyone was dead except for a few of us and we had to run the show. We knew noth­ing really about politics and statecraft so we began reading books about it.”

“What, in the jungle?”

“Yes, in the jungle. We found most of the philosophers hard to under­stand but not Karl Marx. He was simple to understand and with him we could even predict the future. So, we became Marxists… but I am not that anymore. I have seen that it does not work.”

He then continued to tell me how hard it was in the jungle and how at times they captured Indonesian army supplies of supermie, kretek cigarettes etc. “We were starving but I could not eat that stuff. I hated In­donesia so much. I had seen so much violence… I fought in the jungle for 20 years and now I have been sen­tenced to 20 years in prison but do not think that just because I am in prison I have stopped growing and learning. And the first thing I had to learn here was to give up my hatred for Indonesians because here I was surrounded by Indonesians and they were also prisoners and had also suf­fered under the government.”

Painting of drift wood made by Xanana Gusmao while he was in Cipinang prison, for Tamalia Alisjahbana. The foetus at the centre represents Timor Leste, a nation waiting to be born. (Painting and photo copyright with Tamalia Alisjahbana)

Then he pointed at the painting and said, “So just because a thing looks dead does not mean that it is dead. His finger indicated the knobs and whorls. There is a foetus here,” and indeed that is what it looked like. It indicated to me not only his psy­chological toughness and resilience but also that he was a person who was interested in spiritual and psy­chological growth.

I also came to realize that he had an instinctive understanding of peo­ple which is an indispensable element of truly great leaders. I first noticed this when he told me that there had been a lot of violence and even stab­bings among the prisoners, and that he had told the prison warden that he could bring down the level of violence if the warden followed his advice which was to build a basket ball court and create teams and competitions which all the in­mates could compete in or watch. The violence level decreased drastically.

Later after he was freed and re­turned to Timor Leste I watched on television his first speech to the peo­ple of Timor Leste: the poor, the old, the young stood before him. Many had suffered very much during the war. They were a traumatized people and as they gazed at him wearily, he said only three words to them, “Timor Lorosa’e…. Timor Lorosa’e…. Timor Lorosa’e (at the time the new name for East Timor),” and as they heard his cry, tears began to fill their eyes. At the third cry they were sobbing as a nation for all they had suffered and all they had lost and for the freedom and for the peace.. I never saw such mass cathartic release as in those few minutes. He knew instinctively what his people needed for healing.

Sometime after the Soeharto gov­ernment fell I attended the funeral of Ferdy Salim at the heroes’ cemetery in Kalibata. There Dewi Fortuna An­war President Habibie’s spokeswom­an was speaking. She said that the matter of Timor Timor would be set­tled as President Habibie would free Xanana Gusmao from prison, return the Catholic Church her lands and he would grant autonomy for Timor. It turned out that the government had never spoken to Xanana before and as I would be see­ing him that afternoon at Cipinang I offered to act as a go-between and ask him what his thoughts were on that. Dewi Fortuna agreed. When I put Habibie’s offer to him Xanana re­sponded, “I don’t care if I am freed or if the Church gets back her lands. What we want is a referendum, not autonomy.”

Xanana Gusmao during house arrest in Jakarta addressing Timorese students after the referendum in 1999. (Painting And Photo Copyright With Tamalia Alisjahbana)

With a sinking heart, I asked him, “How would it be if you accepted au­tonomy for 5 years and then a referen­dum?” for having been there recently I knew that with an imme­diate referendum the Timorese would vote for independence.

“Tell Habibie – 10 years autonomy and then a referendum – if he wants. During that period Indonesian forces will become peacekeeping troops and everyone should be allowed to express their views. The Indonesian govern­ment will have 10 years to win back the hearts of the people of East Timor. If at the end of that period they vote to remain with Indonesia I guarantee that the Fretilin will lay down its arms and stop fighting. If however, the peo­ple vote for independence, tell Habibie that I would want a warm and close relationship with Indonesia and that we would keep the rupiah and the Indonesian language and that there should not be visas required for travel between Indonesia and Timor Timur.”

I passed on the message to Dewi Fortuna who told me that the For­eign Office was delighted and felt that they could negotiate with him. To my amazement slightly more than a year later Habibie held a referendum in Timor and the people voted for in­dependence. Later I asked Dewi why Habibie had made that decision and she told me, “What was uppermost in Habibie’s mind was that we need­ed to do right by East Timor, and that human rights was part of the democratization process for Indo­nesia. Secondly, it was an econom­ic decision. We had spent an enor­mous amount of money on Timor in the past to showcase it to the world and now Indonesia was facing an economic crisis. We might spend so much money again for ten years and then they might still vote for independence. If they want to go it would be better to let them go now. A third very important reason was that we intended to also give autonomy to Aceh and to Irian Jaya. If we gave Timor a referendum after autonomy, there was a danger the others would be demanding that too and finally, even with autonomy if the issues were not settled and anything went wrong, Indonesia would still be blamed by the international commu­nity.”

But to return to the subject of forgiveness, at one point in his life Xanana spoke to a former Timorese fighter who had been captured and tortured. He was crippled for life and had lost family members when Xanana met him and asked him how he dealt with his hatred for Indonesia. The man said simply, “I just forgive them.”

“How can you? After all they have done to you!” Xanana declared.

“When someone has hurt you so badly that you are filled with so much hatred that you either have to kill them or kill yourself then it may be time for you to consider the option of forgiveness,” he replied.

When Xanana Gusmao became president of Timor Lorosa’e he made forgiveness an official part of his gov­ernment policy. I do not know if he is a Catholic but I doubt it nevertheless, he is a person who has understood the essence of Christ’s central mes­sage very well. When one looks at the facts: Xanana and Habibie were both humanists who understood very well that both Indonesia and Timor Les­te’s best future is one of friendship, cooperation and peace. They were naturally drawn to each other but I think that both also realized that their example of friendship and love would more than nearly anything else help both their countries. Their last interaction was not simply an act of friendship but also an act of the finest statesmanship. (Tamalia Alisjahbana)

Malaysian Embassy: Celebrating the 62nd National Day

(photo: IO/OHW)

IO – The  Ambassador to Indonesia and his staff held a 62-year celebration of Malaysia’s National Day on Wednesday, September 11, 2019, at the Malaysian Embassy on Jl. Rasuna Said in South Jakarta; invitations had been sent to guests such as Malaysian and Indonesian state officials, ambassadors from friendly countries, Malaysian citizens in Indonesia, and others wishing to celebrate the festive event.

Malaysian National Day is completely different from Malaysian Day (or Hari Malaysia), which is celebrated every year on September 16. National Day is celebrated by Malaysians after members of the federal government, Malay rulers, and Malaysians, the first Chair of the Malayan Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman read the Declaration of Malaysian Independence on August 31, 1957. Since then, the day has become a National Day and Independence Day.

The National Day of Malaysia (Malaysian Day) is celebrated every year on September 16. Malaysia Day marks the formation of Malaysia as a country in 1963 when Singapore, Sarawak and North Kalimantan joined the Malaya Federation. Meanwhile, National Day commemorates the nation’s independence from the rule of the British Empire.

In his remarks, Malaysian Ambassador, Zainal Abidin Bakar said, Malaysia has reached the age of 62 years, and it is the age of bilateral relations between Indonesia and Malaysia. The bilateral relationship which is adorned by many colors, is like a brotherhood that does not begin or end. This fraternal relationship also continues to achieve progress together, centered on economic progress, which then increases in other fields which are no less important, such as security, welfare, social, cultural, and others. Zainal also hopes that diplomatic relations that support this symbiosis will continue to be maintained, nurtured together. On the occasion, he invited all Indonesians to visit Malaysia next year, because Malaysia has declared 2020 as a Year of Visiting Malaysia.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Villages, Disadvantaged Regions and Transmigration of the Republic of Indonesia, Eko Putro Sandjoyo said, “On behalf of the government and people of Indonesia, we extend our warmest congratulations to the government and the people of Malaysia for the 62nd of the National Day of Malaysia and Malaysian Day”. In addition, Minister Eko Sandjoyo also mentioned that Indonesia and Malaysia are the closest of neighbors, bound by many similarities such as history, culture, and religion, and he hopes that Malaysians in Indonesia continue to enjoy peace, harmony, and prosperity, and may the close friendship between two nations continue to strengthen.

As a closing part of the 62nd National Day celebration, the guests were invited to enjoy a variety of Malaysian specialties. The committee even provided Durian Musangking, which is famously delicious and sent directly from Malaysia shortly before the event began, for visitors to enjoy. (ohw)

“Purple Asian Tour” live in Jakarta

(photo: Prive. Doc)

IO, Jakarta – Attention all! The wait is over. Yes, in a matter of weeks, Lukas Graham, the Danish group famous for their singles “7 Years” and “Love Someone” will be greeting their fans in Indonesia for the first time in the “Lukas Graham” The Purple Asian Tour – Live in Jakarta 2019”. Lukas Graham is holding this concert in order to promote their new album, “The Purple”, throughout Asia.

The concert will be held on 01 October 2019 at The Kasablanka Hall, Kota Kasablanka Mall, Jakarta, presented by Traveloka, with Fullcolor Entertainment as promotor and with the support of DoubleTree by Hilton Jakarta – Diponegoro. The band will have local young singer Gisella Anastasia as the opening act.

David Ananda, Fullcolor Entertainment Managing Director, stated that he is very proud of being able to bring such a phenomenal band as Lukas Graham to Indonesia. The band is more than just a bunch of talented musicians: they started all the way from the bottom and fought their way up to international stardom. They would be a great example for Indonesia’s young musicians in boosting their careers. “Lukas Graham’s fight and spirit can encourage the younger generations of Indonesia in choosing a musical career,” David Ananda said.

The concert was possible due to Traveloka’s involvement as Exclusive Online Ticketing Partner. “Not only are we proud to be able to bring Lukas Graham for its first concert in Indonesia, we are also proud to be able to cooperate with Traveloka and gain its support as Exclusive Online Ticketing Partner. With Traveloka being the go-to travel and lifestyle solution provider for the people nowadays, we can make it easier for our fans to get their concert tickets online. There is no need to make them wait “7 years” just to watch Lukas Graham here Indonesia. Get your tickets immediately! Again, watch Lukas Graham live at The Kasablanka Hall, Kota Kasablanka Mall, in Jakarta on 01 October 2019.”

Meanwhile, Terry Santoso, Traveloka Xperience Head of Marketing, stated that Traveloka feels honored to be the Exclusive Online Ticketing Partner for “Lukas Graham: The Purple Asian Tour 2019” concert. “Traveloka is a discovery platform. One of our missions is to enrich the lives of our users with unlimited experience. We also understand that the essence of traveling is not just leaving your city to see a different place per se, but it is to get new experience that can enrich your lives just near you. One of the ways we can do this is by enjoying quality entertainment like musical concerts, which our people have loved for years,” he said.

Breathtaking photography and musical performance by Russian artists

(photo: IO/Rimar)

IO – The Embassy of the Russian Federation to the Republic of Indonesia, in collaboration with the ASEAN Centre in MGIMO University of Moscow, hosted a photo exhibition and musical performance in the Russian Center of Science and Culture. The event was carried out as part of a series of events commemorating 70 years of bilateral diplomatic relations between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Indonesia.

Ambassador of the Russian Federation in the Republic of Indonesia H.E. Mrs Lyudmila Georgievna Vorobieva was present at the event. “We will be celebrating the 70th anniversary of our diplomatic relations on the 3rd of February next year but we have already started the series of events dedicated to this anniversary. Actually, this one is the second one because the first one was an exhibition of Islamic culture in Russia, held in Taman Mini,” said the ambassador.

“But this is a very different and very unique event, one that will comprise a delightful combination of visual and audio arts – and this is indeed a sample of Russian culture and work of talented Russian artists. What makes it even more interesting is that the photos by Mr. Sergey Kovalchuk cover Indonesia in the eyes of Russian artists,” she continued.

The photo exhibition was by Russian photographer Sergey Kovalchuk, and displayed pictures from his newest book “Indonesia. The Territory of Ancient Traditions”. Mr. Kovalchuk has already held four exhibitions showcasing photographs from his book, in the State Museum of Oriental Art in Moscow, outside in the Russia Exhibition Center (VDNH), Krasnaya Presnya Park of Moscow during the annual Indonesia Festival, and the Alexander Garden of Saint Petersburg. The book contains photos representing Indonesian culture, from Independence Day celebrations to ancient traditions, such as bull racing and line dancing.

As for the musical performance, attendees were enchanted by beautiful melodies of top Russian guitarist Dmitry Maloletov, who mostly played his own compositions, merging classical, jazz, rock and folk music; he used his favorite method of guitar playing: tapping, which created the illusion of more than one guitarist being present. After playing a few songs, Mr. Maloletov invited his friend and renowned bass player Indro Hardjodikoro to play along for an impressive improv session and then to give a performance on his own. (Rimar)

KPK Prosecutor: “Supreme Court should refuse Setya Novanto’s request for a judicial review”

Setya Novanto is proven to have violated the provisions of Article 3 of Law Number 31 of 1999 as amended in Law Number 20 of 2001 concerning the Eradication of the Crime of Corruption in conjunction with the Article 55 Paragraph (1) Point 1 of the Criminal Code. (photo: IO/Yoga Agusta)

IO, Jakarta – Former House of Representative (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat – “DPR”) Chairman Setya Novanto has asked for a judicial review (JR) of his e-ID Card corruption case. Regarding this, the KPK Prosecutor has urged the Supreme Court (Mahkamah Agung – “MA”) to reject this request. “We ask that the Panel of Judges of the Supreme Court for Judicial Reviews state that it declines the Application for Judicial Review made by Applicant Setya Novanto,” Corruption Eradication Commission (Komisi Pemberantasan Korupsi – “KPK”) Prosecutor Burhanudin in response to Novanto’s JR Application in a hearing at the District Court of Central Jakarta, Jalan Bungur Besar Raya, Jakarta, on Tuesday (10/09/2019).

The KPK Prosecutor merely read out the summaries of the response for the Request for a Judicial Review. He said that there has been neither novum or new mitigating evidence, nor error of the judges in the case against Novanto. “According to the above explanation, we hereby opine that the issues described by the JR Applicant in the form of his Application do not have any grounds as indicated in Article 263 Paragraph 2 letter a and letter c,” he said.

Furthermore, Novanto has already accepted the judgment at the first level in the Corruption Court of Jakarta; therefore, the judgment already has permanent legal power. If Novanto was dissatisfied with the judgment in the first instance he could have submitted an Appeal, but he did not do so. “The JR Applicant should have made the legal effort of an appeal, but unfortunately he did not make use of his rights and accepted the judgment of the first instance,” the Prosecutor said. “The failure to exercise his rights to either appeal or cessation is simply a ruse of the JR Applicant to avoid a longer period of imprisonment.”

Setya Novanto’s legal counsel, Maqdir Ismail, stated that the Application for Judicial Review was submitted because novum, judicial error and conflicts between the points of the judgment were noted. He further stated that the essence of the novum is related to the untruth of Novanto having received any money, whether directly or through a money changer. The middlemen giving out the money in the JR documents were said to be the Director of PT Murakabi Sejahtera, Irvanto Hendra Pambudi Cahyo; President Director of PT Quadra Solution, Anang Sugiana Sudiharjo; and entrepreneur Made Oka Masagung. “We are going to prove that Setya Novanto never received the USD 7.3 million in the case,” he said.

Maqdir further disputes the erroneous judgment made by the judges when considering the charges. He stated that the judges should have charged Novanto for violation of regulations concerning gratification. “He should not have been charged with violation or law or abuse of authority. There are separate articles regulating gratification,” he said.

Based on the evidence, Maqdir hopes that the JR Panel of Judges can declare that his client is absolved of all legal charges. “I hope that the judges can look into this case properly, because no matter what it is impossible to always charge a person with violation of Article 2 Paragraph 1 or Paragraph 3 concerning bribery, while they (the ones being charged) do not have the authority to accept bribes,” he said.

Setya Novanto is proven to have violated the provisions of Article 3 of Law Number 31 of 1999 as amended in Law Number 20 of 2001 concerning the Eradication of the Crime of Corruption in conjunction with the Article 55 Paragraph (1) Point 1 of the Criminal Code. He was sentenced to 5 years of imprisonment and a fine of IDR 500 million minus three months’ imprisonment by the Panel of Judges of the Corruption Court of Jakarta. Furthermore, he was sentenced to pay a settlement of USD 7.3 million minus the IDR 5 billion he has submitted to KPK Investigators, minus 2 years’ imprisonment. The Judges have also imposed the additional punishment, revoking his rights to hold any public office for 5 years following his release from imprisonment. (des)

A President’s promise to Papuan notables

President Joko Widodo meets with figures from West Papua and Papua in Istana Merdeka (10/9/2019). (photo: Sekertariat Presiden)

IO, Jakarta – President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has invited notable figures from Papua to meet him in the Presidential Palace, Jl. Medan Merdeka Utara, Central Jakarta. 61 of these august individuals from Papua and West Papua came in response to the invitation. President Jokowi was accompanied in the meeting on Tuesday (10/09/2019) by the Head of the State Intelligence Agency (Badan Intelijen Negara – “BIN”) Budi Gunawan; Coordinating Minister of Politics, Law, and Security Wiranto; State Secretary Pratikno; and Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno L. P. Marsudi.

The varied figures represent different elements of society, representatives of tribes, churches, organizations, academicians, students, female groups and youth groups. On this occasion, the Papuan community representatives submitted 9 requests to Jokowi: first, expand to five provincial areas in Papua and West Papua. Second, establish a National Agency for Papuan land Issues. Third, place Papuan Echelon 1 and Echelon 2 officials in ministries and agencies. Fourth, construct archipelago dormitories for Papuan students in all major cities, and guarantee the safety of these students during their studies. Fifth, approve suggestions for revision of the Special Autonomy Law in the National Legislation Program in 2020. Sixth, requesting the issuance of a Presidential Instruction for appointing Part-time National Civil Apparatus (Aparatus Sipil Negara – “ASN”) in Papua. Seventh, accelerating the construction of the Palapa Ring in Eastern Papua. Eighth, establishing a tribal council for Papuan women and children. Ninth, build a Presidential Palace in Jayapura, the capital of the Province of Papua.

Abisai Rollo, Chairman of the Regional House of Representatives (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat – “DPRD”) of Papua, is convinced these nine points will form a proper solution for existing problems. They are all rooted in the same issue: fair development of Papua’s human resources. “Why do we focus on HR? Papua is rich in natural resources, but our wealth is nothing in view of the number and quality of our HR. It should be the natives of Papua who know how to use these natural resources for fair and equal welfare in Papua,” Abisai said. “We have been revolving development, distributing HR so far. However, we ignored the importance of developing Papua’s own HR. In fact, Papua’s competitive HR is more precious and necessary for our future than natural resources, which are limited and thus will decrease, and even end, over time.”

Abisai believes that the development of Papua’s HR is more important than the distribution of its natural resources. Natural resources can be finished, but HR can only move forward. Therefore, education for the younger generation is the most important thing. “Our younger generation has a great future and they never forget the history of this great nation, wherein Papua becomes an important element in Indonesia’s diversity,” he said.

Abisai then stated his request that the younger generation of Papua not be punished for attempting to defend themselves. Dialog is the best method to take to resolve problems. The citizens of Papua agree to ignore past issues and start a dialog with Jokowi. “Please do not punish them, but direct them instead, because they too are the future of Indonesia. We open our hearts to the utmost, we have also forgotten past issues and are ready to start an honest dialog,” he said.

Another request made by Papuan notables to Jokowi is to construct a Presidential Palace on Papua land. “Please construct a Presidential Palace of RI in Papua, in our Provincial Capital of Jayapura,” Abisai Rollo said. He did more than just ask: he has donated 10 hectares of land for the construction. “Therefore, you can change ‘a visit to Papua’ into ‘working in Papua’, Sir,” Abisai said. “If the President wishes to move the Presidential Palace to Kalimantan, I also respectfully request that you construct a Presidential Palace in Papua, so that within the next five years you will be the first one to take office in the Presidential Palace in Papua.”

In response, Jokowi promised to accelerate the equalization of welfare in Papua. Therefore, he insisted that State-owned Enterprises employ more workers from this easternmost province in Indonesia. He believes that one of the main issues is the availability of jobs for the young of Papua. He claimed that he has always gotten the same question from Papuan students studying abroad: “Where do I go after I graduate, Sir?” “Well, to Papua, of course,” he replies. “And what will we do then?” they asked. Therefore, he is accelerating the recruitment process for civil servants from Papua. Other than being stationed in their home region, the people recruited would also be given the opportunity to be appointed to other provinces. “If we don’t undergo an acceleration, there will be no development because competition is very strict. So I’m taking the necessary shortcut, on my own prerogative,” Jokowi said.

Furthermore, Jokowi promised to construct a Presidential Palace in Papua in 2020. “We will start construction of the new Palace next year,” he said to the general applause from the attending representatives of Papua and West Papua.

President Jokowi claimed that he has visited Papua the most of all the provinces in Indonesia – a total of 12 times. “I have gone 12 times to Tanah Papua within the past five years, both West Papua and Papua. I have made 3-4 visits to Wamena and two to Nduga. Maybe some citizens in Papua have not even been to Nduga,” he said. “I do not dare to talk to other provinces, as I have visited them only 2 times or at most 3 times during my tenure.”

Jokowi admitted his curiosity about how large Indonesia really is. He once tried flying straight all the way from Aceh to Wamena. “I once took that flight out of curiosity about the size of our country, it took me 9 hours 15 minutes,” he said.

Jokowi stated that the flight is comparable to a flight from London to Istanbul. “Now if we fly all the way from London in England to Istanbul in Turkey, we should pass over 6 or 7 countries,” he said. “So, what does this mean? It means that this is really a very big country, and all of our differences and diversity are fated by The One Above.” (dsy)

Indonesia’s Broadcast Commission meets Coordinating Minister of Politics, Law, and National Defense: Maintaining healthy broadcasting in Indonesia

Wiranto states the purpose of the meeting is to harmonize the objectives of KPI and Kemenko Polhukam in terms of improving the quality of television broadcasts in Indonesia. (photo: IO/Prive. Doc)

IO, Jakarta – Coordinating Minister of Politics, Law, and National Defense (Menteri Koordinator Bidang Politik, Hukum, dan Keamanan – “Menko Polhukam”) Wiranto met with Indonesia’s Broadcast Commission (Komisi Penyiaran Indonesia – “KPI”) Commissioner at the Ministry of Politics, Law, and National Defense (Kementerian Koordinator Bidang Politik, Hukum, dan Keamanan – “Kemenko Polhukam”) Office in Jakarta on Wednesday (11/09/2019).

Wiranto stated that the purpose of the meeting was to harmonize the objectives of KPI and Kemenko Polhukam in terms of improving the quality of television broadcasts in Indonesia. “I request that KPI and Kemenko Polhukam harmonize with one another at work because we have the same purpose, i.e. how to make sure that all broadcasts in Indonesia are positive,” he said.

Wiranto added that he requested KPI to improve its performance because the current freedom of broadcasting is actually being used to create chaos. “Broadcasting nowadays is quite free. And that is actually being misused in order to generate riots, conflicts, insecurities, and lack of peace among the people. KPI is a monitoring agency. Therefore, it naturally has the right to observe other broadcasting agencies in order to maintain the integrity of the NKRI,” he said.

Wiranto stated that the Kemenko Polhukam will hold further meetings with KPI to discuss the best form of cooperation among them. He hopes that this cooperation can generate healthy broadcasting in Indonesia. “KPI is just as committed as we are. With KPI as a monitoring agency, we can monitor other broadcast agencies and ensure that they maintain NKRI integrity,” he said. “We have agreed that there will be periodic meeting between Kemenko Polhukam and KPI, also with our journalist friends and other broadcasting agencies, in order to share how we all could cooperate on how to maintain the health of broadcasting in Indonesia.”

The meeting was attended by KPI Chairman Agung Suprio and his Vice Chairman Mulyo Hadi Purnomo. Agung Suprio stated that his meeting with Wiranto discussed issues relating to broadcasting in relation to politics, the law, and national defense. He agreed to coordinate with Kemenko Polhukam because several of their primary duties and functions overlap. “Therefore, we coordinate with Minister Wiranto due to these similarities. By cooperating, we can resolve political, legal, and national defense issues together,” he said. (dsy)

Returning to Gerindra? Sandi to hold talks with Prabowo

Sandi is at Nusantara DPR, Senayan Parliamentary Complex, Jakarta, on Tuesday (September 10, 2019). (photo: IO/Dan)

IO, Jakarta – The Great Indonesia Movement (Gerakan Indonesia Raya – “Gerindra”) Party Vice General Chairman Fadli Zon has stated that the Party will welcome Sandiaga Uno with open arms if he decides to return. “We would happily welcome Mr. Sandiaga with open arms if he should return to Gerindra,” Fadli said at Nusantara DPR, Senayan Parliamentary Complex, Jakarta, on Tuesday (10/09/2019).

Fadli stated that he has heard that Sandiaga wanted to become part of Gerindra again. However, he does not know for sure if Sandi really is coming back to Gerindra or not. Gerindra has not held any internal discussion about this issue, because there are several other items in the agenda that they prioritize. “Yes, I heard that he is joining Gerindra, Insya Allah (if it pleases Allah) soon. Maybe we can discuss this later in the event of a work meeting or similar national coordination meeting,” he said.

Fadli further stated that Party General Chairman Prabowo Subianto supports Sandiaga’s return to Gerindra Party. “I believe that Mr. Prabowo also wants Mr. Sandi to rejoin us,” he said.

Fadli also stated that Sandi left the Party during Presidential Elections in order to focus on campaigns for the Fair and Prosperous Coalition. “Yes, that’s why he left, for the sake of campaigning for the parties in the Fair and Prosperous Coalition. The idea is to keep from getting confused and to make it more convenient,” he said.

When we met him at the same location, Sandiaga stated that there has been no further discussion about his rejoining Gerindra. “I am waiting for further discussions. Personally I would like to take a break from politics for now,” he said. However, he stated that he would be meeting with Prabowo to discuss his political career. “After the current agenda, naturally I would discuss things with Mr. Prabowo.” (Dan)

Rizal Ramli: “Health Security ‘designed for failure’ from the start”

The book launching and review of BPJS Dalam Pusaran Kekuasaan (“BPJS in the Maelstrom of Power”) held at the Parliamentary Complex in Jakarta on Friday (06/09/2019). (photo: IO/Dan)

IO, Jakarta – The Government’s decision to increase Health Social Insurance Administration Organization (Badan Penyelenggara Jaminan Sosial – “BPJS”) Fees per 1 January 2020 as a means to mitigate its sharp deficit has been widely criticized. It is common knowledge that BPJS Health has continuously been in deficit since 2014. In fact, the 2019 deficit is estimated to hit IDR 32.84 trillion.

The Government’s raising of Health BPJS fees by more than 100% is frankly wrong. Imagine, Class 1 monthly fees increase from IDR 80,000.00 to IDR 160,000.00, while Class 2 goes up from IDR 51,500.00 to IDR 110,000.00 and Class 3 from 25,500.00 to IDR 42,000.00 a month. Committee IX and XI of the House (DPR-RI)  have already held meetings with the Ministry of Finance; the outcome was a rejection of the proposal for fee increase for Class 3. In other words, DPR approves the Health BPJS fee increases for Classes 2 and 1.

Former Coordinating Minister of Maritime Affairs Rizal Ramli has criticized the Government for its clumsiness in seeking a resolution for the swelling Health BPJS deficit, which has been looming from the first year of its establishment. Ramli suggests that if the Government can cut interest payments on Govern­ment Bonds by raising interest rates by 2% (totaling IDR 300 trillion a year), it should not be difficult for them to cover Health BPJS deficits, at only IDR 32 trillion.

Designed for Failure

Rizal Ramli suggests Health BPJS has been “designed” for financial failure since the time of its establishment. It is no wonder that it is always haunted by budget deficits. “We can say that it is deliberately ‘designed’ for financial failure. Remember, ‘designed’ with quotation marks. This is what we need to correct,” he said.

Rizal notes financial failure from a number of indications. First, the Government was reluctant to set up Health BPJS from the beginning, obvious from statements made in 2009 to 2014, that Indonesia does not need a National Social Security System (Sistem Jaminan Sosial Nasional – “SJSN”), even though regulations relating to it were signed in 2004 – because it was deemed that the nation cannot yet afford it. “This, despite Russia and the Scandinavian countries having established their own SJSN in the 1860’s, at a time when they were considerably poorer than Indonesia was in 2010,” he said.

Second, Rizal hints that the Government deliberately triggered the failure of BPJS, as it only budgeted IDR 5 trillion in base capital. He considers this amount to be far too small to cover the needs of social security in Indonesia. Furthermore, the premiums stipulated by the Government are tiny in comparison to existing needs. Initially, the Government imposed 1% of workers’ income and 4% of employing companies. “This, while our closest neighbor, Singapore, sets worker contribution at 6% to 8% and employer contribution at 13%, the same as in Malaysia,” he said.

Rizal further mentioned Coordinating Minister of Maritime Affairs Luhut Binsar Panjaitan’s proposal to beg Ping An Insurance, a Chinese state company, to help resolve the issues faced by Health BPJS. He warns that any participation of the China-based company would potentially endanger our national sovereignty, as they can freely access the data of our citizens who participate in the Health BPJS scheme. “In the current digital era, whoever controls data is the winner,” he said. “Luhut should be called the Honorary Ambassador of China. What suggestion does he ever make that is not related to China somehow?”

Rizal then challenged the Government to allow the Indonesian Labor Union Confederation (Konfederasi Serikat Pekerja Indonesia – “KSPI”) Chairman Said Iqbal to provide other solutions to suppress persistent deficits in BPJS Health. He believes that Iqbal has the capability, as he was one of the original initiators of the BPJS Law; Said Iqbal can generate a more comprehensive strategy than merely doubling BPJS fees within a month.

“If the Government is unable to resolve the BPJS issue comprehensively, instead of merely doubling fees and begging China for help, we suggest that Mr. Jokowi ask Said Iqbal, KSPI General Chairman, for help in establishing a workers and experts’ committee instead. We believe that they can arrive at a solution within a month,” he said in the book launching and review of BPJS Dalam Pusaran Kekuasaan (“BPJS in the Maelstrom of Power”) held at the Parliamentary Complex in Jakarta on Friday (06/09/2019).

A Huge Burden

KSPI General Chairman Said Iqbal agreed with Rizal that the fees were much too small. When first approved, BPJS fees were only IDR 19,000.00 for Class 3 participants, now adjusted to IDR 23,000.00. “Yes, it might as well be designed for failure. The Government set the individual monthly fees at IDR 19,000.00, while World Bank calculations set the minimum fee that can cover expenditures at IDR 36,000.00 per person a month. Naturally it would fail and suffer a deficit,” he said.

However, if the Government raises BPJS fees, the ones who will feel the bite most are workers with minimum monthly wages of IDR 2,000,000.00, for example those in Sragen, Boyolali, and Yogyakarta. The other group that would suffer is small-time entrepreneurs who are classified as “Non-Wage-Earning Participants. “The Government should not play around. Raising BPJS fees is not that easy – don’t act as if the people’s income is equal throughout the country. Those earning a IDR 2,000,000.00 minimum wage and less find it to be an acute burden,” he said.

House Deputy Speaker  Fadli Zon stated that the Government’s plan to increase health security fees negates the social function that BPJS Health as an agency must uphold. The increase of Health BPJS fees should not be imposed on the people, as it goes against the very idea of social security. “Referring to the initial calculations made during BPJS’ establishment, the premiums paid by the people would never fully cover funding. This is where we went wrong – we position BPJS as a pure insurance company. The State should have put the Social Security system as an instrument that helps the productivity of its citizens,” he said.

Fadli further stated that the Constitution has already mandated the Government that laws should ensure that everyone has a right to physical and spiritual welfare, to shelter and to obtain health services. “Whoever is in power in Indonesia must implement the mandate of the Constitution. Starting from this premise, we cannot consider all issues relating to BPJS Health directly by logic of the health actuarial regime. This is because BPJS is not pure insurance, but a social security system. Since BPJS is the State’s social security instrument, the State must consider citizens’ actual ability to pay fees,” he complained.

Putting the burden on the people to pay premiums imposes damage many fields, starting from the wage system, workers’ welfare, etc. The proposal to increase BPJS Health fees as a means to cover deficits is ironic. On one hand, the Government wants to increase fees due to deficits, but on the other hand BPJS Health has already reduced medical coverage and benefits for participants. “This represents poor Social Security management. We need to evaluate the institution, the organization, the HR, and we need to see how far the BPJS system is transparent and accountable,” he said.

Fadli further stated that the budget set for health in this country is too low. This is the root of the problem in implementing health Social Security in Indonesia. Ideally, the proportion of a health budget to the GDP is about 10%, even though the Health Law mandates about 5%. Therefore, BPJS Health should not be brought in as an actuarial issue, as we need to view the issue comprehensively. “Our health budget is IDR 110 trillion, while our State Budget is IDR 2,200 trillion,” he said. Fadli further stated that health budget to the GDP is only 2.8%. In other words, everyone in Indonesia only gets USD 112.00 funding or equal to IDR 1.5 million per person per month.

Paying One’s Own Way

Health BPJS President Director Prof. Dr. dr. Fachmi Idris claims that the low fees of BPJS, especially that of Class 3, have caused the BPJS deficit. He firmly stated that the fees, which amounts to no more than IDR 1,000.00 a day for Class 3 participants, are simply insufficient. “We absolutely have no intention to burden or trouble the people by increasing BPJS fees. Even if we manage to resolve the National Government Internal Auditor (Badan Pengawasan Keuangan dan Pembangunan – “BPKP”) findings on inefficiency in BPJS, the resultant savings would not be enough to cover the deficit,” he said.

A BPKP audit shows that 10,654,530 National Social Security participants are still of unclear status, as it is unclear whether they are truly “able” or “poor”.

Fahmi proposed three solutions to cover the deficit: First, adjust fees; second, reduce expenditures by regulating BPJS benefits; and third, adding subsidy funds that have been used so far. “BPJS Class 3 fees at IDR 25,500.00 are subsidized, reducing them from the actual coverage amount of IDR 53,000.00. It is the same with Class 2 fees, reduced from the actual IDR 63,000.00 to IDR 51,000.00. We only do not give any discount to Class 1 at Rp 80,000.00. Therefore, we ask that those who are able to pay the fees themselves, i.e. to pay without subsidies, do so. Let the State cover only those who are really poor,” he said. (Dan)

58.9% of our work force are Elementary & Middle School graduates: Demographic bonus or disaster?

The book launch held in the DPR/MPR RI Complex, Jakarta, on Tuesday (10/09/2019). (photo: IO/Dan)

IO, Jakarta – Deputy Speaker of the House (DPR-RI) Fahri Hamzah offers a solution to create welfare in Indonesia, as mandated by the Constitution of 1945. Fahri stated that the Government may use several solutions, among others reorganizing a number of sectoral policies in order to ensure better welfare. The outspoken and controversial legislator has collected his solutions in his book, Arah Baru Kebijakan Kesejahteraan Indonesia (“The New Direction of Indonesia’s Welfare Policies”). This book is the second of Fahri Hamzah’s welfare trilogy.

“I have attempted to deconstruct welfare policies as they exist. Most of my explanations come from my daily activities as an MP. In my second book, I place my focus on Human Resources as an important element in generating welfare in Indonesia,” he said during the book launch held in the DPR/MPR RI Complex, Jakarta, on Tuesday (10/09/2019). 

The 243-page book describes the five primary elements for generating welfare in Indonesia, each described fully in their respective chapters: “Indonesia’s Demographics”, “Labor Policies”, “Food Security Policies”, “Health Policies”, and “Educational Policies”. The second book in the trilogy came after Fahri published his first book, Mengapa Indonesia Belum Sejahtera? (“Why Hasn’t Indonesia Prospered?”). “The second book explains the weaknesses in the implementation of welfare policies. They indicate a mismatch with the realities and complexities of Indonesia’s society,” he said.

Democrat Party politician Dede Yusuf stated that from 2020 to 2035, Indonesia will face a demographic bonus, wherein 60% of its population would be of productive age. If managed properly, these people will be able to develop Indonesia greatly. “This is one of the ideas behind Mr. Fahri’s book: 10 years from now, we will have more people working for wages and strengthening the country,” he said.

However, before Indonesia reaches the demographic bonus period, right now we have a lot of lifestyle problems such as strokes, heart disease and cholesterol. In other words, our young generation is not a healthy generation.

Furthermore, we need to ask whether our current educational system supports our future demo­graphic bonus or not. Existing data shows that out of our current work force of 130 million people, 58.9% are only Elementary and Middle School graduates. We only have 8% college graduates, with High School/Vocational School graduates making up the remaining 20%-25%. Therefore, even in the Industry 4.0 Era, it is still very difficult for our work force to catch up. “In the AFTA era, professional competition will not just be between cities, but between countries. Let us improve our personal qualities in order to be able to compete and support our demographic bonus,” Dede said.

Expanding on Dede’s statement, former Coordinating Minister for Economy, Finance and Industry, Rizal Ramli stated that even now, many of Indonesia’s productive age citizens are unemployed. “Let’s not allow this demographic bonus transform into a demographic disaster,” he said.

Ramli believes that there are two things that can help our people prosper: maintaining the prosperity of farmers and creating a national social security system that actually helps the people. He further stated that if we want to generate welfare, we need to prioritize the wellfare of the common people. We must even provide bureaucratic services for them, for free. Yet on the contrary, all these years it is the rich who are accorded more conveniences. “I’m sorry to say this, but until now, the only president who really cared about farming was Mr. Suharto. There is barely any concern for agriculture following the presidents after him, just rhetoric,” he said.

Meanwhile, former Vice President candidate Sandiaga Uno, who attended the discussion, stated that there are several indicators of Indonesia’s welfare. The most important of these is support for the needs of the common people. “The most important thing is to get our people to focus on the support that they would need,” he said.

One of the primary factors that determine welfare is the provision of job opportunities that would help develop a fair and prosperous nation. “As soon as they have jobs, income and earnings, they can have more opportunities to upgrade themselves, as described in Fahri’s book. Finally, more and more citizens become prosperous as well,” Sandi said. He then added that food security is the next most important thing. “Because the prices of necessities, especially foodstuff, is our principal duty. The idea is how do we keep prices affordable for all the people,” he said. (Dan)