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21st Century Challenges to Democracy. Part II: The role of the internet, fake news and extremism

(Photo: Wikimedia)

In looking at problems confronting 21st century democracy and possible solutions, the Independent Observer has spoken with a number of international figures. In Part II, we speak to Paul Wolfowitz, former US Deputy Secretary of Defense, Shyam Saran, former Indian Foreign Secretary, Ana Maria Gomes, former Euro MP and recently candidate for President of Portugal, Marzuki Darusman former Head of Indonesia’s Human Rights Commission and William P. Tuchrello, former Library of Congress Representative to Indonesia.

IO – When nations are created a people start by asking themselves, “Who are we? Who do we want to be?” William Tuchrello, who for many years was the Library of Congress Representative to Indonesia and remains an astute political observer says that the creation of the United States was based on a belief in God, as was also the case in Indonesia. The first principle of the Pancasila is: Belief in God almighty. The United States similarly turned to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount for inspiration. This was later paraphrased by John Winthrop (1588 to 1649), the first Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and frequently quoted by later presidents as, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. The Shining City upon a Hill.”

America was to be like that “Shinning City upon a Hill” and William Tuchrello notes, “In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount striving to attain the ideal of the City on the Hill symbolizes a unique experiment to create a multi-ethnic and multiracial society. While other countries such as Australia have a similar challenge none are as large or have such a domestic and international impact as the United States.

As that Anak Menteng, Barack Obama notes in his book, A Promised Land: America is the first real experiment in building a large multi-ethnic, multicultural democracy. And we don’t know yet if that can hold.

The fact is that no one will know if any democracy can survive the tests of time. A democracy is one of the most difficult political systems to maintain for democracy is messy and often chaotic and stressful and frustrating. It is a very difficult way to govern filled with paradoxes and inconsistencies. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, “No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. It is the worst system of government except for all the others.”

In the events of January 6th 2021 an attack on American democracy came from within. President Biden’s new attorney general Merrick Garland has said that at the top of his agenda will be domestic terrorism. In Part 1 of this series when analysing the causes leading to the events of the 6th of January the economy, racism, immigration and education have been discussed. William Tuchrello expands on these causes adding, “Open rebellion against technical and social change that advocated a Mercantile economy which often opposed science and the rule of law.”

Paul Wolfowitz observed that it was the notions spread by President Trump that it could not have been possible that so many did not vote for him and the fact that this misinformation was accentuated by several new voting procedures during the pandemic such as for example such large amounts of people voting by mail because of fears of the pandemic, that added to the causes for the events on January 6th, occurring.

After the last election in Indonesia, the nation found itself in a somewhat similar situation when the opposition candidate Prabowo Subianto also contested the election results claiming election fraud and bringing his accusations to the Constitutional Court. However, unlike Mr. Trump, he accepted the rulings of the court and thereby upheld the rule of law in Indonesia. In a healthy functioning democracy there must be well functioning free elections, freedom of speech and press, and the rule of law. Prabowo placed country above party when he accepted the rulings of the court and did not spread misinformation among his followers that he had in fact won the elections nor did he try to incite an insurrection. Afterwards, he was prepared to work together with the new government by accepting the position of Minister of Defense. Once elections are over in a functioning democracy bipartisanship is very important in order to actually get things done whether this is carried out in the form of working together in the legislative body or in coalitions with the government.

Tuchrello commented, “In the United States the actual attack on Congress was encouraging such nationalist and racist groups as the Proud Boys to defy the rule of law. As one organization noted the Trump leadership urged such groups to create an atmosphere to threaten Congress via an attempted insurrection (and re-enforced via social media platforms and demonstrations) to overrule the rule of law, separation of powers and constitutional means of a peaceful transition of government. This was further exacerbated by fake news by such movements as Q-Anon.”

Another major driver of the attack on Capitol Hill was the spread of misinformation or so-called “fake news”. This was made possible by the enormous technological advances in the late 20th and early 21st century causing the emergence of the internet with its increasingly powerful social media presence which changed the public source of information regarding politics and society. Through algorithms the internet helps to create bubbles which reinforce people’s prejudices by providing them with information and news that merely reflect their own views and beliefs. They do not or rarely receive information supporting other views. Thus, encouraging further polarization of society.

Former Indian Foreign Secretary, Shyam Saran comments, “The internet has made information available to people without the mediation of television, radio or newspapers. People have direct exposure to what is happening and are inundated by information. They try to filter this by creating information bubbles with like-minded people, assisted by internet algorithms which reinforce prejudices. On the one hand the world becomes more interconnected but the tools of technology are also creating islands within society. The sense of belonging to a larger community of humanity is becoming less and less important as is the idea that diversity is not a threat but interesting and enriching.”

Ana Gomez agrees and observes, “Social media and networks do not require journalists as mediators of what is the news. Many promote fake news to the masses. It is part of their policy. Trump and extreme right-wing parties such as Chega in Portugal and AFD (Alternative für Deutschland or Alternative for Germany), a type of German neo-Nazi party use this fake news to build on the resentment of people who feel left out of societal and economic growth. A lot of young people in Europe vote for extreme right-wing parties because they are jobless and houses are too expensive for them to buy.  During the pandemic Germany sent 26 military doctors to help Portugal but in the previous years, hundreds of Portuguese doctors and nurses left Portugal because of a lack of jobs and opportunities due to the austerity programs.”

So, it is not just the new technology that has helped to spread misinformation and strengthen extremist groups. Fake news which is verifiably false or misleading information together with a weak economy promotes the increase of extremist groups as well as the acceptance of disinformation by a disaffected public. A certain degree of socialism to decrease a widening economic gap brings with it an element of stability, especially to societies where capitalism has run rampant. Germany and Norway are good examples of capitalism but also of taxation and redistribution of wealth.

In the aftermath of the events of the 6th of January, social media platforms appeared to recognize their share of responsibility in allowing Donald Trump to spread the misleading information of election fraud. Donald Trump began to lose his public voice as social media sites started banning him from Twitter to Facebook to other social media sites – even Parlay which is a favorite for extreme right-wing groups. Meanwhile, law- makers in the European Parliament also raised concerns at the role that social media played in the storming of the United States Congress in Washington, saying the European Union’s proposed Digital Services Act or DSA should regulate and limit the spread of conspiratorial material online.

Ana Maria Gomes who recently ran for President of Portugal explains, “The European Union’s efforts to regulate the internet through the Digital Services Act and the Digital Marketing Act are necessary not only for the European Union but at a global level and the European Union has had to take the lead to push globally for this because the United States has until now not wished to regulate the digital platform and has received the results in hatred and fake news. Under former President Trump the United States did not want to enter into dialogue on that subject. It was only after the events of the 6th of January and the coming into office of a new president that this became important.

However, it is not only important to regulate the internet through laws but also to regulate the big digital companies so that they are taxed and do not just shift their profits to tax havens. Now, there is finally more awareness in the United States Congress. We see this with people like Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and even more moderate members of Congress understanding that one way to break the digital millionaires is through taxes. There should be a wealth tax for this and the United States and the European Union should work together in this. It is the only way to control the hatred and the fake news namely, by controlling the digital platforms from which they emanate.

The big powers in the democratic world must act together because there are states that use the digital platform against their own people and other countries in anti-democratic ways. They use it to manipulate and repress their own populations and to interfere in other democratic systems and countries as for example China and Russia do.”

In lessening the polarization of a society it is important to disempower the giant media and digital empires that amplified misinformation for years whether from people such as former President Trump or from extremist websites like Q-Anon. As specified by Ana Gomes this can be done through antitrust enforcement and stricter regulation of social media, accompanied by countervailing financial pressure. The big digital platforms and media broadcasters should lose legal immunity for violence-inciting content and be liable for knowingly spreading lies. This is already beginning to happen with the producers of voting machines and software suing Fox News for saying that they rigged the election. Meanwhile, the American public has begun to boycott products of companies that have provided donations to the campaigns of politicians who spread fake news. This has caused some donors – Walmart is an example to begin to withdraw their funding from certain politicians.

In America extremists have targeted the military as well as the police. As in many democracies, in Indonesia the military has always been the bedrock and bulwark of unity in diversity and the same may be said of the Indian army and it is for this reason that the role of the military in remaining outside the realm of politics is so important. Although, there have been cases of military personnel or their families being recruited by extremist religious groups in the Indonesian military it remains rare. Nevertheless, the military needs to be vigilant. In America it has been shown to be a problem. Evidence has emerged that several prominent participants in the attack on Capitol Hill were members of the US military or veterans as well as members of the police from other states. Extremist groups try to target members of the military and the police because of their expertise with weapons. The new United States Secretary of Defense, Lloyd J. Austin III has announced that he is taking steps to protect members of the military from being targeted by extremist groups.

To decrease the polarization of a society bipartisanship is very much needed. One of President Biden’s most important tasks is in trying to promote unity which he does when he says, “There are no red states or blue states. There is only the United States.” By immediately sending Federal assistance in the aftermath of the power failure that affected millions of Texans after extreme weather conditions and by going himself to Texas which is an extremely red state he proves this. At the end of the day the leader of a country is the most influential person in that country. What he says and does has an enormous impact on people’s thinking and behavior. It is a leader’s task to unite the country.

Education is another extremely important instrument for promoting unity and working together. In Canada teachers try to prioritize cooperative and collaborative learning especially in graduate schools. In China teachers praise students who are collaborative and who get along with their peers. In Indonesia we see this in the traditional gotong royong ethic of working together and helping one another, as well as in the principle of musyawarah untuk mufakat or “deliberation to reach consensus” in the Pancasila. This is another traditional Indonesian cultural attribute that probably evolved as a consequence of being on one of the major world trade routes and having more than 300 ethnic groups and over 600 languages and dialects. Meanwhile, in the United States it is the centrists from both parties who control the balance of power in the Senate.

Paul Wolfowitz remains optimistic and remarks, “In the past we have been polarized before as a nation but we were also able to heal. The situation in the 1960s was very gloomy when Martin Luther King was assassinated however, by the late 1970s and 1980s the nation had largely healed. What is needed now is leadership that can reach out to the other side and work together on common concerns. The issue of immigration to the United States for example, needs bipartisan agreement on policy which should favour legal immigration while balancing it with the United States doing what it should for refugees fleeing for humanitarian reasons.”

For a government attempting to counter fake news there has to be trust of its institutions. Shyam Saran stresses, “The institutions in a democratic society need to be strong in order to create trust. When there is a lot of information available as is the case now people are unsure what to believe. There need to be institutions and leaders who are respected and trusted by the people who can provide them with a sense of what is right and what is wrong. If trust in institutions fails people start to go into bubbles. They find groups which they consider more trustworthy than societal institutions. So, there needs to be a strong and accountable bureaucracy as well as law and order machinery that people trust.

The events of January 6th have shown that most of the institutions of United States democracy have stood out as being very strong. Despite many new appointments in the judiciary by former President Trump the courts rejected his false claims of election fraud. As regards the bureaucracy in many states even when state officials were Republican they were not prepared to illegally overturn election results. Also, United States civil society has proven to be strong. The mainstream media resisted Trump’s politics and fake news. The same can be said for both conservative and liberal think tanks which have been remarkably united in their views. President Biden can draw strength from these institutions. Despite some individual cases as a whole there has also not been a politicization of the military. Such strong institutions have not however been able to wipe out all of the negative. It must be remembered that nearly 74 million people voted for Donald Trump and many of them believe his disinformation and overcoming this is not going to be easy.”

In Indonesia despite bureaucratic and legal reforms instigated by several Indonesian presidents the bureaucracy as well as the law and order machinery including the courts have all too frequently been shown to be incompetent or corrupt. Rule of law remains the weakest cornerstone of Indonesian democracy.  (Tamalia Alisjahbana)

If you enjoyed reading this article you may be interested in:

Part III of this series will discuss the role of political structures and party systems in preventing the polarization that is a serious challenge to democracy.

Part I of this series discusses the changing demographics, racism, the economy and education and their challenge to 21st century democracy. Please see: https://observerid.com/21st-century-challenges-to-democracy-part-i-the-role-of-changing-demographics-racism-the-economy-and-education/

21st Century Challenges to Democracy. Part I: The role of changing demographics, racism, the economy and education

(Photo: Courtesy Twitter_@SPARTANICUSZ)

In looking at problems confronting 21st century democracy and possible solutions, the Independent Observer has spoken with a number of international figures. In Part I, we speak to Paul Wolfowitz, former US Deputy Secretary of Defense, Shyam Saran, former Indian Foreign Secretary, Ana Maria Gomes, former Euro MP and recently candidate for President of Portugal and Marzuki Darusman former Head of Indonesia’s Human Rights Commission.

IO – On the 6th of January 2021 like most of the world Indonesians were shocked to awaken to news of an attack on Capitol Hill, the site of America’s Congress and one of the world’s preeminent symbols of democracy. What added to the shock was that the attack came from within the Unites States by America’s own citizens. And perhaps most disquieting of all, they appeared to have been incited by the American president, himself.

With news coming in not only from the mainstream media but also from dozens of videos posted on social media it soon became clear that what was at first referred to as a riot was in fact an insurrection. The forcible breaking and entry despite determined police resistance into the buildings of one of the arms of the United States federal government, the erection of a gallows outside the buildings and a mob searching for Vice President Pence, Speaker of the House Pelosi as well as other members of Congress chanting, “Hang Mike Pence” and “Kill Nancy,” were all clear indications of an insurrection. Rioting aimed at buildings of the federal legislature is not the same as rioting in non-governmental buildings. Threatening to kill the vice president and speaker of the house add to the gravity of the situation, as did the murder of one policeman, the shooting of a rioter followed by the suicide of two policemen involved in protecting the buildings from the insurrectionists. The onus increased with the gravity of the timing of the attack: just as the American Congress was preparing for a peaceful transfer of power.

For several years now international observers have watched with concern American democracy facing increasingly worrying challenges culminating in the events of January 6th on Capitol Hill when democracy was attacked by internal forces. Merrick Garland, President Biden’s pick for attorney general has said that dealing with domestic terrorism will be at the top of his agenda. However, it is not only the United States but also democracies in Europe and Asia that are facing 21st century challenges. What happens to the leader of the free world will be of interest to all democracies and provide valuable lessons in the evolution of democracy for all.

In this series of articles, the Independent Observer will be discussing the causes behind the challenges to 21st century democracy as well as possible resolutions in America and compare this with situations in Indonesia and other democracies. For this we have spoken with a number of international figures representing various political outlooks in democracies around the world. Former Indian Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Shyam Saran for example, is a moderate. Meanwhile, former United States Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz is a moderate conservative whereas former Euro MP and candidate for the Portuguese Presidency, Ana Gomes is an avowed socialist. Nevertheless, their opinions and conclusions about the causes underlying the challenges democracies are now facing and the way forward are as a whole remarkably similar.

Former Indian Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran has said that while the assault on Capitol Hill was a shock in a sense it could have been foreseen as a consequence of an extended period of polarization, both political as well as societal in America. The attack on Capitol Hill was due to that polarization becoming more and more acute. He cites the racism in American society as part of the existing social divide. “The Black Lives Matter movement resulted because despite legal equality for all U.S. citizens this equality was not to be found in a social sense. Beside this there is also a divide between the original citizens and immigrants.”

In America today whites especially, feel besieged by waves of immigrants who are not only racially disparate but also frequently bring cultural and religious differences to the table. Added to this, the fertility rate of whites is the lowest among all groups in the US. By 2044 there will be more non-whites than whites in America. The United States used to celebrate itself as an immigrant nation but that attitude appears to be diminishing. Whereas many Americans did not support such immigration policies of former President Trump as building a wall between the US and Mexico or separating minors from their parents, many do want the United States to be firmer in dealing with illegal immigrants. Most countries take a very strict attitude towards illegal immigrants and are supported in this by their people. In Indonesia for example both the press as well as parliament are extremely watchful of illegal immigration from China during infra- structure projects using a Chinese labour force.

Former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense, Paul Wolfowitz however, does not see racism as the greatest challenge facing America. Given the enormous progress he has observed, just in his own life time since joining the 1963 march on Washington where Martin Luther King delivered his historic, “I have a Dream” speech he is optimistic about the country’s ability to continue to make progress. He notes President Obama’s election in 2008 was welcomed by enormous numbers of Americans, even among those who voted for Obama’s opponent John McCain. “Of course, there is still racism in America but people forget the willingness of Americans to accept change. So, I am optimistic about our ability to continue to make progress on that issue.”

Clearly immigration policies which bring about large shifts in demographics bring social tensions which can polarize society. Immigration policies need to be well prepared and if shifts in demographics are expected then education and law, the twin instruments of social engineering must be well planned to prepare society for peaceful transitions in demographics. Countries with differing races also need to be aware that despite education and legal efforts to eradicate racism the issues of racism are often more complex and deeply rooted than apparent and need to be continually dealt with. In Indonesia for example, this would mean openly facing and addressing racism against Papuans, an issue if left unattended will create future challenges for Indonesian democracy.

To this, former Head of the Indonesian Human Rights Commission, Marzuki Darusman however warns, “During the last ten to fifteen years – perhaps even longer – the Democrats in America have allowed identity politics to emerge; a manifestation of issues in terms of recognition of abortion, LGBT and other minority rights. Identity politics have worsened the readiness of parties to reach compromise on national issues. On the other side for example, you find the drive for populism among the evangelical religious right. So, there is a big challenge driving both sides apart which leaves no middle ground. In Indonesia such populism is dormant at present but you see it every now and then raise its head in the form of populism with religious overtones.”

In America a populist religious right has played an important role in ensuring former President Trump’s rise to power and in his continued popularity amongst a large segment of the American populace. Although Mr Trump personally exhibits many of the traits abhorred by religious people he is prepared to deliver certain things that they believe in which no other president has been able to deliver. At times religion has been weaponized driving further polarization of American society.

Marzuki Darusman observes that in Indonesia during the last election the Gerindra party tried to create a coalition with a religious populist segment of society but did not succeed in winning the presidency. Now that Gerindra is in coalition with the government, a problem has emerged as to who will take over the leadership of this populist religious segment. Marzuki says that so far the only clear leader who has emerged is Habib Rizieq but that like the PKS, Habib Rizieq cannot provide them with a national platform to emerge as a respectable political force. The danger is however, that this populist religious segment could go underground and take on a life of its own.

Under several presidents the Indonesian ministers of education have been affiliated with religious organizations and consequently public schools became less religiously tolerant. In a swing back to the Pancasila the current Minister of Education and Culture together with the Minister of Religious Affairs and the Minister of Home Affairs have recently issued a decree providing pupils with freedom of religious attire in public schools. It is a small move towards the centre and more moderation. Clearly an intrinsic part of the nature of democracy which views all citizens as equal is that it thrives best under a moderate political system that does not polarize a country too much to the left and to the right.

In India there are also warning signs of a polarization taking place in society due to the religious divide between Hindus and Muslims which was not so apparent in the past. Now Shyam Saran remarks, “Tensions are being created because of politics.”

Marzuki Darusman warns of the dangers of this. He says that former President Suharto’s policies helped fan extremism by denying Islam a substantial representation because of his approach of viewing the political landscape from the perspective of extreme right (religious fundamentalists intent on creating a religious state) and extreme left (the communist intent on creating a communist state). It was only later as he began to lose the support of the armed forces that he started to court the Muslim right. A democracy it appears must provide the opportunity for representation and freedom of speech to all sides while itself striving for moderation in order to survive.

Shyam Saran further comments, “In India there has also been a hardening of inequality and income, likewise due to political policies and economic strategies. While there has been private sector growth the scale and quality of the kind of services the state provides such as education and health care have diminished. This makes it difficult for the poor to access health care and education. So, that it seems that only the privileged have a future.”

One thing that all those interviewed did agree upon was that growing economic problems is a major driver in the polarization now apparent in America and that it poses one of the main democratic challenges there. Shyam Saran holds that the cohesion of United States’ society after World War II has slowly broken down due to economic factors. He notes that many whites felt their dominant position eroded because of increasing economic inequality. “In the 1970s an American CEO’s compensation package would not be more than 15 times the salary of an average worker. Today a CEO’s compensation is 300 times that of an average worker. Before a factory job would provide a comfortable middle class life but now workers see an increasingly widening economic gap.”

Marzuki Darusman asserts, “A UBS study shows that up to 65% of national wealth in Indonesia is in the hands of 10% of the population but in the U.S. it’s even worse. (According to Federal Reserve statistics the top 10% of U.S. households own 69% of the nation’s wealth). So, the policy to raise the minimum wage from $7.50 per hour to $15 shows how the other America is fairing.”

Paul Wolfowitz believes, “The technological revolution accentuates the problem. It is not only the rise of the internet and social media but also the fact that so many tasks critical to the economy are dependent on technical skills and a large portion of the population still do not yet possess these skills. For example, to be employable most professions require people to have computer skills.”

Meanwhile, former Euro MP Ana Gomes who is a socialist places responsibility for the increasingly large economic gap on the neoliberal myth that the market regulates itself and so there is no need for a strong state. She laments, “This facilitates corruption and the abandonment of the idea of ethics in politics so democracy does not deliver to the people and the extreme right parties take advantage of the disillusionment and resentment of the people as the economic gap widens. Democracy is not possible without a strong middle class and a well-functioning societal elevator making it possible for upward mobility. This has been exacerbated by the neoliberal austerity programs.”

An economy that fails to provide sufficient jobs and that has created an increasing gap between the haves and the have-nots is perhaps the strongest driving factor in the challenges to democracy that America is facing today. But this does not just apply to America. Any government anywhere must be able to deliver economically to its people or irrespective of what system that government is based on its people will reject it.

Another challenge to 21st century democracy in America that those interviewed agreed with is education. Paul Wolfowitz mentioned a lack of higher education as well as enough good quality education in parts of the country as part of the problem. “There are large numbers of people in the United States who possess only a few years of high school or have not finished high school and there is a large gap in income between them and those with higher education.

The average quality of education also appears to have gone down in America since I was young. Too often today, our K-12 public schools offer a fairly mediocre level of education. However, the quality of higher education in American universities is very high. Overall, too many youngsters in public schools are reading below grade level.”

Emerald Starr, a long time American resident of Bali agrees. His mother Dr. June Charry an educational psychologist and one of the first to identify dyslexia in a psychology assisted program with Columbia University spoke of the decreasing quality of education starting with the defunding of schools and social education programs in the 1980s which resulted in a disempowering of the education system leaving people less well informed and easier to control or deceive. He says, “We see the results now, if people are not well educated and informed it’s easier to have them believe untruths which is what is happening now through social media.”

Shyam Saran comments on how expensive education has also become in America, leaving thousands of students beginning their careers settled with enormous student debts. “It is very important that even if a society is poor it is able to offer its people the opportunity of an education and to thereby better their lives and economic standing.”

On addressing racial and immigration issues it is important that America is able to project to all segments of society the idea of what it is to be American. Shyam Saran notes, “America has always been an immigrant country and that has contributed greatly to American progress and development. So many of America’s most talented scientists and CEOs come from all over the world. The leadership must be able to get people to understand that inclusiveness is the strength of countries such as the United States, Indonesia and India; that we embrace diversity and do not view it as a threat. And education provides one of the most important means of doing so.”  (Tamalia Alisjahbana)

If you enjoyed this article you may also enjoy:

Part II of this series discusses the internet, fake news and extremism and their challenge to 21st century democracy. Please see: https://observerid.com/21st-century-challenges-to-democracy-part-ii-the-role-of-the-internet-fake-news-and-extremism/

Yogyakarta for “The Solipsism 0.2”

(Photo: Prive. Doc)

IO – Success with his last album, “Solipsism 0.2” which managed to attract 1,000,000 listeners on Spotify within 4 days, MasPam Records with Hectic Creative will hold a virtual event entitled “The Solipsism 0.2: A Day in Yogyakarta” with a different nuance. Based on information reported from Instagram @thesolipsism0.2, the event will screen a documentary film that tells the journey & preparation of Pamungkas and the creative process behind the scenes in making the event.

This event is the 3rd event of Hectic Creative and its collaboration with MasPam Records. In the previous year, Hectic Creative succeeded in holding an event that gained positive responses from the community. Starting from its first event, Buzz Youth Fest with guest stars Sheila on 7, Efek Rumah Kaca, Langit Sore, and Megantoro which was held at GOR UNY Yogyakarta and was attended by around 10,000 spectators. The second event, Revel Gigs, invited 5 of Indonesia’s best soloists with guest stars Andhika Mahesa, Ardhito Pramono, Megantoro, Hindia, and Pamungkas which took place at PKKH UGM with approximately 4,000 spectators.

Apart from the documentary film screening, “The Solipsism 0.2: A Day in Yogyakarta” will feature Pamungkas & the PeoplePeople who will perform all the songs from the album Solipsism 0.2 with Puput Pramuditya Orkestra exclusively. Yogyakarta is the city of choice in this event because Yogyakarta is the first city for Pamungkas to perform outside the capital city and has received a lot of positive support from music lovers, this has given a deep impression on the journey of Pamungkas music.

This program will be aired on March 3, 2021, at 20.00 WIB via streaming on the loket.com website or the GoPlay application available on the App Store/Play Store. Ticket prices for this virtual event are IDR 88,000 (Regular) and IDR 108,000 (Bundle Tickets including The Solipsism 0.2 Face Mask); you can found them on loket.com and the GoTix app.

March Special at Horison GP Mega Kuningan Jakarta

(Photo: Horison Doc.)

IO – As one of the most prominent hotel management companies in Indonesia, operating for more than 15 years, PT. Metropolitan Golden Management – Horison Hotels Group faithfully strives to maintain a worldclass hotel business network. PT. Metropolitan Golden Management – Horison Hotels Group has been entrusted by PT. Sendico Wiguna Lestari with the operation of GP Mega Kuningan Hotel in Jakarta, as “Horison GP Mega Kuningan”, arrayed with complete facilities and services – an unforgettable experience for hotel guests. The Hotel is sited in a very strategic location of the Jakarta business district, surrounded by office buildings, malls and embassies.

Through March 2021, Horison GP Mega Kuningan is offering a special price of only IDR 480,000 for a superior room, including two people for breakfast; there are also March food promotions including Ikan bumbu rujak for IDR 55,000, Black-pepper chicken for IDR 45,000, and Rendang tail for IDR 90,000. This promo is only available in March. “Please stay overnight and try our special menu,” said Heni Junarti, General Manager of Horison GP Mega Kuningan Jakarta.

The hotel is located on Jl. Mega Kuningan Timur No. I, Kuningan Timur, Setiabudi District, South Jakarta. Horison GP Mega Kuningan offers a total of 67 rooms with four (4) room types: Deluxe 4 rooms, Junior Suite 3 rooms, Super Deluxe 6 rooms, and Superior 54 rooms; it is thus suitable for businesspeople and tourists who decide to stay in the Mega Kuningan Business District. Equipped with Meeting Rooms, a Swimming Pool, Rooftop Leisure Area, 24-Hour Santan Restaurant, Free Internet Access in Public Areas, 24-Hour Security System and Laundry Service. Banquet facilities include the Horizon Meeting Room with a capacity of 10 – 120 Pax, with partitions that can be opened; it is suitable for meetings, weddings, or other social events.

For travelers, corporate travelers and families, the Horison GP Mega Kuningan Hotel is suitable for those who want to enjoy their stay in Jakarta, thanks to its strategic location. There are several malls within walking distance, including Bellagio Mall. Easy access from Soekarno Hatta International Airport, normally only about 30 minutes; 3.5 Km from the HI Roundabout, 3.6 km from the Epicentrum Business Area, 9.2 km from the Royale Golf Course, and 9.5 km from the Gambir train station.

Four unique ideas to inspire interesting video content

(Photo: OPPO Doc.)

IO – Video content is a hit among young people because it presents a dynamic visual appearance. Leading-edge technology and various video editor applications for smartphones makes it easier to create videos, even for those who are beginners.

Through video content, you can become a vlogger, expressing your ideas or sharing information such as reviews of places to eat, travel locations, to tips on exciting places to stay. Meanwhile, to distribute the processed video, you can use social media channels such as YouTube, TikTok, or Instagram.

For beginners who want to create video content, the initial stage is to determine a novel and appealing video theme. To make videos you do not need a professional camera; it is enough to use a mobile device such as a smartphone, one example of which is the OPPO Reno 5 5G. This smartphone incorporates multiple video features according to the latest trends that appeal to youths. So, for those of you who want to try to become a content creator and are still confused about making video content, please consider the following ideas:

  1. Daily Vlog

Daily Vlog is YouTube content that displays daily activities. Content like this has recently become popular, because it only contains videos of daily routines that are easy for anyone to do. Now, there is much daily vlog content uploaded by school

students, university students, workers, and even married couples. The daily vlog video content also raises simple themes such as a day in my life, clean with me, my afterschool routine, my morning-night routine, and others. Videos of your daily activities can be recorded without hassle by using the Portrait Beautification Video feature in OPPO Reno5 5G.

  1. Room Make Over

This content focuses on arranging the contents of a room to make it look nicer, tidier, and aesthetically pleasing. This room make-over is also fairly easy to create with low capital. To make it more interesting, you can make it “low budget” themed. Content like this can be an inspiration for some people to make their room more beautiful. To record it is also easy: you only need to prepare your smartphone as a video recording device. Devices such as the OPPO Reno5 5G which is equipped with the AI Highlight Video feature can produce sharp videos even though the room lighting is not too bright. This feature can detect light conditions around objects so that the resulting video looks bright, sharp, and natural.

  1. Unique Cafes Review

The content of restaurant or cafe review videos is still often sought after by netizens to this day, especially if what is being reviewed is a place to eat with a unique, thematic, and cozy concept. Then, the video content often reaps a lot of

visitors and likes. Video recording can be done with the OPPO Reno5 5G device with the Ultra Steady Video feature active. This feature helps reduce shakes when recording video, either through the front or rear camera. You also don’t need to worry about running out of cellphone battery power when reviewing places to eat for a long time. Since the OPPO Reno5 5G, has a 65W SuperVOOC 2.0 feature which can charge the battery 100% in 35 minutes. The 4300mAh battery that this phone has also allowed all-day use of the device.

  1. Video Haul

Haul videos have content in the form of product reviews or “showing off” recently purchased items to collectibles. Nowadays, many haul videos have started to appear featuring groceries from the marketplace. Haul’s videos initially gained relevance through the beauty vlogging community on YouTube in 2006/2007 and are now spreading through other platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. Haul videos may not be as common as they used to be, but the content can still inspire some people to buy certain products. You can make videos like this briefly and easily using the OPPO Reno5 5G. This smartphone also includes a built-in video editor application called Soloop, which provides quite a complete video filter. You can add music, effects, text, transitions, subtitles, trim to filters so that your homemade video looks attractive.

A race against time: Restoring the health of the people and the economy

Ninasapti Triaswati, S.E., M.Sc., Ph.D. University of Indonesia teaching staff

IO – The availability of vaccination greatly increases the hope that our economic growth will recover soon. Statistics Indonesia (Badan Pusat Statistik – “BPS”) data shows that the recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has crashed Indonesia’s economic growth to negative territory, at -2.07% in 2020.

The biggest contributors to negative economic growth are: transportation and warehousing (-0.64%); processing industry (-0.61%); wholesale and retail trading (? ); motorcycle and automobile repairs (-0.49%), construction (-0.33%); accommodation, food, and beverage supplies (-0.31%); mining and delving (-0.14%); and corporate services (-0.10%). The prima donnas of economic growth positive contributors are: Communications (0.57%); farming, forestry, and fishery (0.22%); health and social services (0.13%); financial and insurance services (0.13%); educational services (0.08%); real estate (0.07%).

In terms of economic growth from expenditures, the first negative contributor is investments (I) or gross capital formation at -1.63%, followed by exports (X) at -1.6%, household consumption (C) at -1.43%, and Non-profit Agencies Serving Households (Lembaga Non-profit yang Melayani Rumah Tangga – “LNPRT”) consumption (C) at -0.05%. With the formula Y = C + I + G + X – M, the factors that contribute to positive economic growth are Government consumption (G) at 0.15% and negative imports at -2.74%.

In view of the Bloomberg and John Hopkins University data projecting that Indonesia will need more than 10 years to complete its vaccination program with 2 doses per person and assumed vaccination speed at 60,443 doses a day, we can imagine just how long it will be for our national economy to recover. Naturally, this estimate will change if the Government can drastically increase its vaccination rate. For example, a ten-fold increase of 604,000 doses a day will linearly allow Indonesia to complete its vaccination program within a year.

The University of Indonesia’s Faculty of Community Health (Fakultas Kesehatan Masyarakat Universitas Indonesia – “FKM UI”) estimates that the plague will start to get under control by September 2021 if vaccination for the common people starts on 1 March 2021, with 31,000 vaccinators vaccinating 30 people a day (or 930,000 doses administered daily). In other words, we need to drastically increase our vaccine supply and update our demographic data accurately to ensure proper vaccination. Minister of Health Budi Sadikin admits that data accuracy is a great weakness in Indonesia. Even though it’s hard, it can be resolved by combining demographic data obtained from the recent Regional Elections with data from the latest Census. What’s harder is to ensure that the vaccine is supplied properly and adequately to all vaccinating health facilities across Indonesia.

What we need to remember is that the vaccination program is not the only strategy that must be implemented to recover the people’s health and encourage economic growth. The people’s health is strongly affected by their own adherence to the 5M (memakai masker with benar, mencuci tangan, menjaga jarak, menjauhi kerumunan, dan mengurangi mobilitas – wearing masks properly, washing hands frequently, maintaining physical distance, avoiding crowds, and restricting mobility) protocol and the Government’s implementation of the 3T (testing, tracing, and treatment) program.

Experience of various countries show that properly implementing 5M is efficacious in restricting the spread of the pandemic. This is also the reason why President Jokowi expressed his disappointment that both the Large-Scaled Social Restriction (Pembatasan Sosial Berskala Besar – “PSBB”) and Restriction of Community Activity (Pemberlakuan Pembatasan Kegiatan Masyarakat – “PPKM”) programs have hitherto failed to change people’s behavior – which in turn causes the failure to rapidly restrict COVID-19 infection among the masses.

Therefore, both Central and Regional Governments need to effectively monitor the implementation of the 3T program. Minister of Health Budi Sadikin warned us that the implementation of the program Government is very weak. The holding of the 2020 Regional Elections followed by the year-end holidays have greatly increased the number of people positively infected by COVID-19 at the start of 2021.

On the other side of the equation, the speed of our national economy’s recovery is highly dependent on Government’s political will and administrative abilities, the sufficient availability of vaccines, sufficient allocation of funds for programs that will increase the people’s buying power, and most importantly, national discipline in enforcing health protocols. The people may expect the promises of quick and accurate economic recovery – but they, in turn, must contribute properly as well.

One of the ways to spur economic growth is by increasing investments in the real sector. The Investment Management Agency (Lembaga Pengelola Investasi “LPI”) has been established for the purpose of increasing and regulating foreign investments to Indonesia, and a Bank Syariah Indonesia (BSI) has also been established to support domestic shari’a business. Minister of State-Owned Enterprises and Chairman of the Shari’a Economic Society, Erick Thohir, is optimistic about the entry of foreign investment with the establishment of LPI and BSI – especially from the Middle East. We are still waiting to see the positive impact of this flow of investments after the necessary administrative processes through LPI and BSI.

In terms of Micro, Small, and Medium-sized Businesses (Usaha Mikro, Kecil, dan Menengah “UMKM”) and the creation of job opportunities, it is crucial that UMKMs that crashed because of the COVID-19 pandemic be saved. The necessary strategies of PSBB and PPMK have caused working, shopping, and learning and teaching to be mostly performed at home, and to all but paralyze tourism. The crash of GDP growth hit the UMKM hardest. This is obvious in the drop in growth in wholesale and retail trade, automobile and motorcycle repair (-3.72%), and accommodation, food, and beverages (-10.22%).

Merely providing funds from the State Budget is not sufficient to resolve the UMKM problem, because what matters is the accuracy of the programs meant for UMKM. They really need numerous guidance programs that can help them evolve their business into becoming part of the digital economy. And these UMKM guidance programs need to be expanded fast. This will necessitate the participation of various non-Government organizations that are competent and experienced in this matter.

Reopening Bali

Byron Black

IO – Early last year, when news first arrived that a pandemic was spreading across the globe, most of Bali’s inhabitants could barely imagine the consequences. More than half of their economy depended directly on tourism. Tourism-related services accounted for another quarter.

Once it became clear that Covid-19 was deadly and borders started to close, tourist-dependent economies like Bali came to a crashing halt. In the year prior, sixteen million tourists, out of which six million came from abroad, visited Bali. Suddenly, with borders closing in March and a complete ban in May forbidding even domestic tourists from traveling to the island, Bali tourist `hotspots’ such as Seminyak, Legian and Kuta virtually became ghost towns.

Since then, even with domestic tourists allowed to visit Bali since the end of last July, scores of hotels have closed their doors indefinitely. The average occupancy rate for hotels are below ten percent, which means all hotels that have remained open continue to bleed cash. With massive layoffs, cuts in pay and working hours throughout the tourism sector, scores of Balinese have returned to their villages, mostly in northern Bali, to practice a more traditional lifestyle, mostly relying on fishing and farming. For those left behind earning a fraction of their former salaries and on rotation every week or two, there is barely enough money to survive.

Indonesia’s new tourism minster, Sandiaga Uno, has recently opened an office in Bali since coming into office last December, and in the space of a few months he has kickstarted the process of getting Bali back on track. A former businessman, Uno has been working with Bali Governor Wayan Koster, Health Minister Budi Sadikin, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani and Coordinating Minister Luhut Panjaitan to find the safest path for reopening Bali to international tourists.

Observing a decline in Covid-19 cases on the island after enacting stricter health protocols, there is a renewed push to reopen. The first challenge–to inoculate tourism industry workers and health workers in Bali–is a top priority for the national government, and recently started in earnest. Over 13,000 medical workers and 10,000 people in tourism-related industries have already been inoculated, and assuming the vaccination rollout is kept on track, potential visitors should gain sufficient confidence to visit Bali once the borders are opened.

In the meantime, the national government is preparing new regulations for ensuring that only travelers with vaccine certificates and proof of a recent antigen test will be allowed to enter the country. Such a ‘vaccine corridor’ is the most prudent measure to avoid tourists from infecting each other and getting sick.

Yet even with a reopening, we should not expect tourism to bounce back quickly. Economies everywhere have been hit hard by the pandemic, and with most households’ incomes and savings at their lowest in many years, there will be far less people willing to travel than before. When the pandemic subsides, it could still take several years before the travel industry fully recovers.

With such a sobering prognosis, the future state of Bali, at least in the near term, will look very different from its past. The Balinese will have to resign themselves to new realities. Reopening borders will alleviate some of the economic pain the Balinese have endured over the past year, but not all of it.

Kominfo appreciates TularNalar.Id for abolishing hoaxes

(Photo: Prive. Doc)

IO – The Ministry of Communication and Informatics of the Republic of Indonesia appreciates the presence of TularNalar.id, a site that provides access for lecturers, teachers, students, and the public to learn to fight misinformation.

With this site, it is hoped that Internet users can understand better what they are consuming online – either news or personal information.

The website is part of the TularNalar program initiated by the Indonesian Anti-Defamation Society (MAFINDO) and Love Frankie, supported by Google.org MAARIF Institute.

“We appreciate the effort in overcoming misinformation and disinformation. Based on the existing data, from January 2020 to January 2021 there were around 1500 hoaxes about COVID-19, you can imagine how many losses and chaos have occurred in the community caused by hoaxes,” said Samuel A. Pangerapan, Director General of Informatics Application of the Ministry of Communication and Information of the Republic of Indonesia recently.

With this site, Samuel hopes that people will think more critically about online information.

“This is good education, hopefully, it will create a community that knows, responsive and resilient to hoaxes,” added Samuel.

More than that, Ryan Rahardjo, Head of Public Affairs Southeast Asia at Google believes that this site can help certain organizations fight hoaxes, especially those surrounding COVID-19.

“The point is that fighting misinformation and disinformation online continues to be an important challenge and a top priority for Google. Hopefully, it will help sharpen people’s critical thinking so that they can avoid misinformation and disinformation, especially regarding COVID-19,” said Ryan Rahardjo. (ph)

CKD OTTO Pharmaceuticals Commercial Partnership with Saidal Group Algeria with the Value of 18 Million USD

(Photo: Prive. DOc)

IO, Jakarta, 4 March 2021 – PT CKD OTTO Pharmaceuticals, a pharmaceutical company specializing in oncology products announced today that they are signing business collaboration contract with Saidal Group, an Algerian State-Owned Enterprise and one of the leading pharmaceutical company in Algeria, since its first MOU with Saidal in December 2020.

Due to Covid-19 pandemic, the signing ceremony was held via online. And the event was attended by Mrs. Fatoum Akachem, the CEO of Saidal Group and Mr. In Hyun Baik, the President Director of CKD OTTO, together with Dr. Penny K. Lukito, MCP, the Head of Indonesia National Agency of Drug and Food Control.  

Mrs. Dr. Penny K. Lukito, MCP, the head of Indonesia NADFC has said in her speech during the signing ceremony, “We all know that cancer is a disease that continues to increase in prevalence, globally. The data in Indonesia shows, quoted from the basic health research from the Ministry of Health, showing an increase in the prevalence of tumors or cancer from 1.4 out of 1,000 population in 2013 to 1.8 out of 1,000 population in 2018. This shows an increase. Meanwhile globally, from the GLOBOCAN (Global Cancer Observatory), an interactive web-based platform that presents the global statistics of cancer-related control and research, data obtained in 2020, there were 19.3 million new cancer cases globally with a high mortality rate, which is 10 million deaths.”

These increased in prevalence shows that there is an increase demand for oncology medicines which needs to be answered. By the Agreement’s business model, CKD OTTO and SAIDAL Group set out to answer this needs. The business model will be started by exporting oncology products manufactured in Indonesia by CKD OTTO in bulk by the value of 18 million USD with 6 SKU’s during the next 3 years. In the second phase, technology transfer of these products will be performed once the manufacturing plant of Saidal Group for oncology medicine has been build.

(Photo: Prive. DOc)

Beside the availability of oncology medicines, product quality and customer preferences also need to be addressed. By investing more than 30 million USD for its production facility, CKD OTTO are manufacturing oncology products with a high standard. And since it became the first Halal-certified oncology factory in February 2019, it will reach 2 billion people in other Islamic countries and regulatory markets, including the Algeria’s pharmaceutical market, as it is in the 2nd position in terms of top 10 pharmaceutical markets in MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region with values of 4 billion USD.   

In Hyun Baik, the President Director of PT CKD OTTO Pharmaceuticals has said that, “We hope that all the excellent medicines manufactured by the CKD OTTO will contribute towards the enhancement of health and welfare of all Indonesian citizens. Furthermore, we also hope to contribute towards the development and growth of the Asian economy, starting from Indonesia”.

(Photo: Prive. DOc)

About PT CKD OTTO Pharmaceuticals    

PT CKD OTTO Pharmaceuticals was established on 14th September, 2015 with the vision to provide patients with better access to high-quality, cost-effective medicines in key therapeutic areas. 

It obtained GMP Certificates in September 2018, for: 

  • Oncology Freeze Dry Injection 
  • Oncology Small Volume Injection 

It also obtained Halal Certificate from Indonesian Ulema Council with Excellent category in February 2019. 

Website           : www.ckdotto.com   Email  : cs@ckd-otto.com

Sandiaga predicts tourism to rise in the second semester

(Photo: Prive. Doc)

IO, Jakarta – Optimism for tourism and the creative economy revival is now getting stronger along with the COVID19 vaccination program and various government policies related to the tourism sector. However, to build optimism in the world of tourism, cooperation from all relevant stakeholders is needed.

Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy (Menparekraf) Sandiaga Uno revealed that currently, his party is boosting domestic tourism visits, among others, through the Bangga Berwisata di Indonesia program (#diindonesiaaja). Sandi stated that there are 55 million middle-class Indonesian citizens in Indonesia who have the potential to travel within the country.

“Previously, we focused on raising millions of international tourists from Thailand, Malaysia. At the moment, we are still hoping to continue the program, but we have to calibrate it, due to COVID. However, we also have a lot of domestic tourists – more than 55 million middle-class citizens who are very capable and want to travel,” said Sandiaga Uno in a Forwada discussion entitled “Awakening the Optimism of Indonesian Tourism Industry,” Thursday ( 4/3/2020).

According to Sandiaga, his party wants to restore the tourism industry as soon as possible, but we have to ensure that the number of COVID-19 transmissions is under control. “Currently, the micro PPKM run by the government has been quite successful in reducing the number of COVID-19 transmissions significantly, from 15 thousand per day to 5 thousand per day. This is a breath of fresh air so that we are more disciplined in complying with the micro PPKM,” he said.

Sandi said, seeing the development of COVID in the second year, to boost tourism visits, both foreign and domestic, a colossal collaboration was needed. Sandi said that the collaboration between various agencies such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Law & Human Rights, the COVID-19 Task Force, the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Transportation, as well as elements of society and the business world, is needed.

Regarding when the tourism industry can revive, Sandi admits he is optimistic that this will happen in the second and third quarters of this year.

“If asked about the time, I want to be more optimistic, if we continue to be disciplined and the COVID-19 figure can continue to be suppressed, I see that in the second and third quarters we are starting to improve creative economy events and recovery from tourism resulting in the revival of our economy,” he explained.

Nia Niscaya, Deputy for Marketing of the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy, added that in 2021, her party is preparing to welcome the recovery of the country’s tourism sector by relying primarily on domestic tourists while preparing for the arrival of foreign tourists.

According to her, for the Ministry of Tourism’s current marketing strategy, the most important thing is to build the trust of business actors and market confidence, that Indonesia is ready for a new normal.

This is because there is a change in trends in tourism – now, it is not only the matter of attractive destination but also how the readiness of health protocols at tourist sites.

“Currently, people are more looking for tourist locations that are less crowded, which are oriented towards outdoors, health, wellness, and adventure. In terms of flights, people prefer direct flights, or if domestic ones are safe traveling, go with family,” she said.

She emphasized that tourism marketing is currently very dependent on handling the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore,  all tourism sectors must be able to adapt, innovate and collaborate. Kemenparekraf itself continues to collaborate with various parties in building the perception that Indonesia is ready for a new normal. (nhn)

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