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Nasi kandar, the spice-laden Penang delicacy

Nasi kandar, the spice-laden Penang delicacy
Nasi kandar with a side of omelet, shrimp curry, and sambal chili paste

IO – Penang Island, Malaysia. So many attractions can be found in this exotic locale: traditional and modern healing services, natural beauty, and culinary delight. And the first among the Pearl Island’s kitchen delights is the nasi kandar, widely known throughout Malaysia since the 19th century.

You can spot nasi kandar stalls and houses all over Penang, in the same way you can find warung Tegal or Padang food stalls all over Jakarta. They are similarly laid out, with a glass-covered counter presenting a number of side dishes for white steamed rice.

Nasi kandar, the spice-laden Penang delicacy
Nasi kandar with a side of red-sauce chicken and stir-fried spinach

Nasi kandar, literally “shoulder-borne rice”, was initially sold by hawkers walking around carrying rice and side dishes in containers suspended on bamboo or mangrove poles across their shoulders. The word “kandar”, meaning “shoulders”, is originally from the Urdu language. These migrant sellers from Northern India found their way easily into Islamic Malaysia thanks to trade and religion at the end of the 19th century up to early 20th century.

Penang’s Weld Quay harbor was named an international port at this time. Naturally, it means that traders, sailor, and laborers came to the island in droves. Low pay, long hours, grueling work – the workers and sailors need convenient, easily available, and affordable food that they can eat quickly and easily. And that’s how enterprising Muslim Indian traders swoop in and grab the opportunity.

In the early hours of the morning they already appear around the ships that’s just being loaded or unloaded in the harbor, ready to feed the starving and tired sailors and stevedores with their fragrant, filling dishes. Each of these kandar men carries two large containers with their poles: one of them contain rice, whether pure steamed white rice or spiced biryani rice (frequently both); the other contains a miracle of side dishes – vegetable curries, chicken curries, seafood curries. They would set up station under nearby trees or spread out their broillies, and feed the ravening hordes swiftly and affordably. Each plate of nasi kandar would only have set you back by 5 cents in those days.

Nasi kandar, the spice-laden Penang delicacy
A nasi kandar restaurant in Penang open 24/7

As time goes by, nasi kandar sellers settled down. They started to open stalls and restaurants specifically selling this range of foods in the 1970’s. Nasi kandar, also famously known as nasi mamak or “good mother’s rice”, is now available the entire day, not just for breakfast, thanks to some restaurants’ policy of opening their doors 24/7. It is no longer just food for low laborers – now middle-class and even upper-class families get to enjoy it.

These Indian restaurateurs proudly guard and hand down their stories and recipes over the generations. No matter which nasi kandar place you go to, you will know that it is an Indian place from the sights and smells. You can tell that the many, colorful dishes will be spicy and complex. The moment you take a seat, you will be welcomed with either pure white rice or yellow biryani rice, both freshly steamed. All you have to do next is point what kind of vegetable or curry side dish you want to eat with your rice.

Like its Indonesian counterpart the nasi padang, this rice is frequently “banjir” or “flooded” with curry broths. Just its aroma is more than enough to whet your appetite. The side dishes most frequently served with nasi kandar are telur bawang (shallot or leek omelet), shrimp curry, fried squid, kentang balado (potato salad with chili paste), ayam bumbu merah (red marinate chicken), curry chicken, stir-fried green beans, stir-fried spinach, as well as rendang daging and ayam kapitan (the Captain’s chicken). Some nasi kandar joints actually have unusual items in their menus, like rabbit curry and ostrich curry. All the curried dishes feature broth made with coconut milk and multiple spices, giving them a savory kick and different types of heat and favors.What will you drink with your meal? Ais kosong (plain water with ice), ais limau (lime juice with ice), or teh o (plain tea)? Make sure that you don’t make the mistake by ordering teh – sure, it means “tea” and you think you’ll be getting plain tea that you can add with sugar or lime or cream – but in Malaysian street dining, it actually means “milk tea”! Make sure you don’t order the wrong thing – describe what you want exactly when you order.

No matter how long time passes, nasi kandar remains an affordable dish. Plain white rice with no side dishes can be bought at RM 1.00 (about IDR 3,500.00), while a piece of chicken usually costs RM 3.00 (about IDR 10,500.00). However, it’s true that the bigger the restaurant you visit, the costlier the food will be. Most nasi kandar places showcases their menu on big boards mounted on their restaurant wall, allowing diners to plan ahead how much they want to spend on their meal.

Newest two dining spots in South of South Jakarta

Newest two dining spots in South of South Jakarta

IO – This November, the south Jabodetabek area has become more interesting: we have two new dining destinations with strongly different taste and ambience. As the spread of COVID-19 has subsided in Indonesia, and especially in DKI Jakarta, visitors have slowly trickled in for dining in without separator screens, enjoying their meals without time restrictions.

How do these two new dining destinations operate in the new normal? Read on for Independent Observer’s recent discoveries!

Newest two dining spots in South of South Jakarta

Justus Steakhouse
Born and grown in the Flower City, Justus Steakhouse officially opened its 11th outlet, the first one in the Capital, at Jalan Cipete Raya Number 3, South Cipete, South Jakarta, this November.

Justus started out as a tiny juice stall opening in Bandung Trade Centre in early 2000. Later on, it expanded by serving burgers and steaks in Bandung Electronic Center, alongside its juices in 2006. With the expansion of its menu, the BTC outlet follows the change in concept to Justus Burger & Steak, which rapidly grew to have 10 branches in Bandung.

More than 15 premium steak dishes can be enjoyed at the latest branch of the Justus Steak House in the favorite categories of Specialty Steak, Prime Steak and Dry Aged Beef, which is marinated for 14 to 28 days for favor and tenderness. They provide delicious steak meats like Norwegian Salmon Steak 200 gr, Aussie Lamb Chop 250 gr, US Black Angus Sirloin Steak 200 gr – and the prestigious Stroganoff Wagyu MB5+, Back Ribs Wagyu MB5+ 500 gr, and Tenderloin Wagyu MB5+ 200 gr.

Newest two dining spots in South of South Jakarta
Justus Steakhouse

“With family diners as our target market, we at Justus Steakhouse always do our best to provide an atmosphere of homeliness to all consumers who come to us, to give them pleasant memories of the time they eat out with their families. We don’t just try to provide affordable products: we also do our best to remain consistent with the quality of our menu,” said Justus Steak House Chief Operation Offcer Nico M. Sitindjak during the opening.

Other than Western culinary staples of steaks, pastas, sandwiches, and burgers, Justus also provides East Asia dishes like chicken amiyaki and salmon teriyaki, as well as Indonesian delicacies like sambal matah dory fish and oxtail soup. Priding itself as a family restaurant, it also provides a children’s menu with dishes like teriyaki beef fried rice and cheesy meatballs, the latter slathered in a rich cheese and mushroom sauce.

Justus also provides a large variation of beverages – tea, coffee with royal creamy aren or palm sugar, and mocktails. The latter is only available in the Jakarta branch, and includes fresh sweet minty drinks like virgin mojito and lychee mojito, as well as bitter ones like the sensational red bitter sunrise.

During the pandemic, Justus makes various efforts to ensure that diners can eat in happiness and comfort while maintaining health protocols, such allowing Drive In & Dine (eat in cars in the parking lot). Justus is also planning to open a Meatshop, which sells a variety of its frozen dishes that customers can take home after a direct visit, or order for delivery by phone.

Newest two dining spots in South of South Jakarta
Green Cozy Food Court

Green Cozy Food Court
Cirendeu. Administratively, this tiny region is part of South Tangerang – and it is just a stone’s throw away from South Jakarta. What’s new there? Why, the Green Cozy Food Court, of course! The 4-story eating establishment allows people to dine leisurely while enjoying the atmosphere and taking photos, especially in the afternoons and evenings.

The Food Court was originally a car showroom. As the area became more densely filled with commercial businesses, the owners decided to switch gears and take advantage of the opportunity by revamping it into a culinary destination. “Green Cozy is a one-stop culinary and lifestyle area, where guests can eat, hold meetings, work, hang out at the rooftop area, or shop for goods provided by our many small-business tenants,” said founder and owner Rico during the grand opening in mid-October.

Here are some of Green Cozy’s lovely culinary tenants: Putra Minang restaurant on the ground foor, serving Pariaman dishes such as black broth rendang and the savory-sweet Sicincin grilled fish; Bababil Biryani Rice Stall, which serves a variety of Middle Eastern staples like the richly spiced biryani rice and chicken tandoori, the latter marinated and heated in an oven for 24 hours without oil, as well as crisp samosa; Sei Sapi Mas Kopl49, with original East Nusa Tenggara dishes like its name sake sei sapi, beef slices marinated and smoked for 12 hours using a special furnace; Mutty’s Kitchen, specializing in popular Japanese and Korean dishes like sushi, ramen, and bulgogi, spiced with Korean style chili paste gochujang; Gelato Nusantara, which serves thick, creamy gelato with distinctly Indonesian favors such as rujak fruit salad, ketan hitam (black glutinous rice), and klepon; Kopi Dari Hati, a cutting edge coffee brewer outlet located on the second foor where you can work quietly outside the office or have a relaxed business appointment; Iga Nusantara, a distinctly Indonesian diner that primarily serves iga or ribs. You can have iga bakar or barbecued ribs, rib soup, rib fried rice, and iga garang asem or spicy sour ribs.

One of Green Cozy’s non-food tenants is the White Knight Chess School (Sekolah Catur Kuda Putih – “SCKP”). For over 5 years, its nationally certified coaches have been striving to help participants regain and improve their concentration and creativity.

D’MASIV and Fariz RM are jamming! New song released

D’MASIV and Fariz RM are jamming! New song released
D’Masiv and Fariz RM. Photo: INSTAGRAM D’MASIV

IO – D’Masiv has just released their new song titled Kau yang Tak Pernah Tahu—You Never Know—, which is included in their latest album under the same title.

Kau yang Tak Pernah Tahu shares the same vibe as the other D’Masiv’s songs: catchy. The easy-listening tune sounds familiar, as the band collaborated with Indonesia’s 80s most iconic legend, Fariz RM.

The band admitted to being very proud of working together with Fariz RM; a duet with Fariz RM was a dream come true for Ryan and the band. “I have been listening to his songs since I was a baby,” said Ryan Ekky Pradipta recently in South Jakarta.

“This is definitely one of the D’Masiv fantasies fulfilled,” added the guitarist, Nurul Damar Ramadan.

Ryan admitted to having been a lifelong fan of Fariz RM and his hit songs across the decades. Fariz’ songs have made Ryan’s years and become Ryan’s familiar songs for him.

D’Masiv and Fariz RM planned the collaboration for six years, but the songwriting only began this year. The album is estimated to be completed within a month. “I see Ryan quite often; this was a synergy that was planned six years ago. It has been too long,” laughed Fariz, who showed
up with the band.

“Why has (the song) been released now? The songs have just been written this year and the first person to do this with, is Fariz,” Ryan concluded. (rp)

The Stoeva sisters enchanted by the Island of The Gods

The Stoeva sisters enchanted by the Island of The Gods
Stefani and Gabriela Stoeva. Photo: PBSI

IO – Bulgarian women’s doubles sisters, Stefani Stoeva and Gabriela Stoeva, were having the time of their lives in Bali, while preparing themselves to face the Indonesia Badminton Festival (IBF) 2021 tournament from November 16 to December 5, 2021.

Gabriela, born on July 15, 1994, admitted that they were so fascinated by the weather in Bali. “We come from a very cold country, so being in Bali is an amazing thing. Although it is cold, it feels like summer. It’s perfect,” said Gabriela, complementing Bali to the human relations team and press media at the Westin Nusa Dua, Bali, Sunday (11/14/2021).

Although the current Indonesia Badminton Festival (IBF) 2021 will be held without a live audience, Gabriela was confdent that the following badminton tournaments would be crowded. “Of course, we miss the crowds. We were happy to see the Indonesian supporters’ enthusiasm,” expressed Gabriela.

Stefani showed her eagerness for the whole tournament. Even when she had to follow a strict bubble system, she still could enjoy the hotel facilities that offer a long and sandy beach.

“Bali is charming. This is defnitely an excellent destination. The weather is perfect; we can relax all day,” expressed Stefani. Stefani and Gabriela will open the Daihatsu Indonesia Master IBF 2021 tournament. In this $600,000-loaded prize tournament, Stefani and Gabriela will fight against Indonesian Melani Mamahit and Tryola Nadia.

Badminton was only a leisure activity for both the Stoeva sisters. They joined the badminton club at school, which led to their winning in the 2013 European Junior Badminton Championships. They kept winning and achieved six titles of BWF World Tour up to now.

“The idea to play women’s doubles came from our parents. They never set us apart. We did everything together, not only in badminton. Growing up, our characters built up differently; now we fight a lot,” laughed Gabriela while talking to the press. “Quite normal for sisters to fight, don’t you think?” replied Stefani.

The Stoeva sisters have always been keen to play in Indonesia for the fantastic lively audience. “Badminton in Bulgaria is not as popular as in Indonesia. We are so pumped to play in Indonesia,” said Gabriela. They hope the pandemic will subside soon, so the excitement of Indonesians and the world’s audience will again fill the spectators’ seats. (Roosyudhi)

“Siamese Twin” Indonesian Business & Politics at the height of the Pandemic

“Siamese Twin” Indonesian Business & Politics at the height of the Pandemic
Illustration: LEONARDO A. PUTONG

IO – To characterize a politics-business nexus in this article, I used the term “Siamese twins.” George Junus Aditjondro, a lecturer and expert in the sociology of corruption at Newcastle University in Australia, coined the word. He produced a manual for anti-corruption campaigners and investigative journalists on investigations of reported misconduct in early 2001. This term specifically refers to a situation in which politics (including civil servants and other public officials) and the business/private sector collude, if not actually coalesce, blurring the line between state administrators (either from political parties or professional backgrounds) who abuse their authority to make decisions and use public resources, and the business sector, where the “basic instinct” is to squeeze maximum economic benefit from any business they run.

There will be fertile ground for corruption if there are no clear “rules of the game” controlling the connection between public officials and business persons. The main corrupt actors in the many corruption cases revealed, as stated in Indonesia Corruption Watch’s yearly report on corruption and sentencing trends, are typically state officials, civil workers, and businesses. The shady relationship between the two has resulted in a slew of anomalies, legal transgressions, and financial losses for the state and society as a whole. This is why, in countries with good governance, there are a slew of rules in place to keep public officials and government employees from succumbing to conflicts of interest, a phenomenon that occurs when public officials are unable to make fair and objective decisions because they have a personal interest or stake in the outcome.

To avoid a conflict of interest, George Junus Aditjondro strongly advises public officials who also own businesses to completely withdraw from any business activity (rather than simply becoming inactive) by, for example, relinquishing share ownership and reporting to relevant authorities on businesses still run or managed by family members. In this setting, it is impossible for public officials to manage a business at the same time. This is vital to ensure that choices are made solely in the public’s best interests and to prevent them from abusing their position.

I’ll use this lens to examine what’s happened with Covid-19 in Indonesia, notably the recent accusations of PCR profiteering hurled in numerous national news outlets, including Tempo. The names of public figures suspected to have a direct connection to the PCR “enterprise” were revealed as part of its investigation. Strong protests and categorical denials have been issued, particularly by the two ministers whose names are mentioned, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Minister, who is also Deputy Chair of the Covid-19 Handling Task Force and Coordinator of Java-Bali public activity restrictions enforcement (PPKM), and Erick Tohir, State-Owned Enterprises (SOE) Minister. Even though it is controlled by a for-profit corporation, their spokesperson stressed that they merely acted out of good will to assist the government in providing laboratory facilities to administer PCR tests. President Jokowi, according to Luhut, believes that he and Erick did not profit from the venture.

Is “making a profit” the only requirement that prevents public officials from doing business, even if it is under the guise of assisting the state? While the general public is left in the dark about whether or not to believe the unilateral claim of such public offcials? What was the foundation for the “non-profit” conclusion? Is this backed up by a formal financial statement from the company in question? Is the report open to the public for the purpose of transparency? There may be claims that the corporation is not needed to be accessible to the public because the private sector is only accountable to its shareholders. Isn’t the business, however, connected to the public affairs handled by the people in question?

“Siamese Twin” Indonesian Business & Politics at the height of the Pandemic
Illustration: LEONARDO A. PUTONG

PCR business: Loss-making or Proftable?
This article will attempt to give primary and secondary facts to describe the backdrop of the PCR industry in Indonesia so that it does not fall into “circular dispute.” The key data source is the National Disaster Mitigation Agency’s (BNPB) procurement record for PCR, VTM, and RNA reagents between April and September 2020, when it was assigned by President Jokowi to coordinate efforts to contain the pandemic, particularly in the health sector.. Because it was the first phase of the government’s response to the pandemic in the setting of a national emergency, this time was chosen. The consequence is that medical gadget prices are sky high, owing to a supply shortage and rising demand. This background is intended to dispute the assertion that the cost of a PCR test is truly high, and that individuals should expect to pay a high price for it.

The price of a PCR test is made up of numerous cost components, including laboratory, lab technician salary, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), PCR reagents, PCR kits, and others. A PCR test cost at least Rp2.5 million during the early days of the pandemic. This could be a “psychological” price paid as a result of the global concern about a virus that is still wreaking havoc in numerous places. Nonetheless, according to BNPB procurement data, the price of PCR, VTM, and RNA reagents manufactured in China and Korea in April-September 2020 only ranged from Rp150,000 to Rp300,000. Referral laboratories for PCR testing were only available at the time.

Why did the government (in this case, the Health Ministry) just release Circular HK.02.02/I/3713/2020 on October 5, 2020, seven months after the pandemic began, setting the PCR price at Rp900,000? Why wait so long? Furthermore, the cost of PCR, VTM, and RNA did not reduce signifcantly. According to the most recent data from the Ministry of Health, the number of PCR laboratories has nearly doubled to 742. So, was it solely out of a sense of patriotism that entrepreneurs jumped into the PCR game? Was it true that there was no profit to be made?

Let us now calculate the costs that the general population must bear as a result of being obliged to submit to and pay for a PCR test, whether for mobility, a business trip, or to determine whether or not they have received the virus. ICW’s computation will be discussed in this post. The study used the price of Rp900,000 as a benchmark when it was initially published on October 5, 2020, because it lasted for 10 months and was only dropped to Rp495,000 on August 16, 2021, before lowering to Rp275,000 on October 27, 2021.

“Siamese Twin” Indonesian Business & Politics at the height of the Pandemic

The 10-month span between October 2020-August 2021 included a period where Indonesia was ravaged by the second wave, sparking rocketing demand for PCR tests. In July-September 2021 alone, test specimens hit more than 16 million. According to ICW, during that 10-month period, around 25,840,000 PCR tests had been administered for various purposes. As those cost Rp900,000 a pop, this means an eye-watering Rp23 trillion in revenue had been generated by PCR laboratories across Indonesia.

As the Health Ministry further slashed the price to Rp495,000 on August 16,
2021, and assuming that various components that make up the PCR price remained the same, then there is a very significant price difference pocketed by PCR laboratories: Rp405,000 per test. If we multiply this by the number of PCR test specimens gathered in the 10-month period, we can roughly estimate the profit: a whopping Rp10 trillion!

This obviously demonstrates how lucrative this industry is. It’s no surprise that the number of PCR laboratories has multiplied so rapidly. Everyone appeared to be anxious to come on board and obtain a piece of the PCR test cake. So, does the notion that the PCR industry is unprofitable still stand?

Second, there was a reaction from PCR industry operators after the Health Ministry pressured the price down to Rp495,000 and then to Rp275,000. One excuse they frequently used was that the PCR test’s quality was deteriorating, and that quality PCR kits could no longer be obtained at the increased price. PCR kits are only available in China. According to a BNPB document, practically all of the kits have come from China and South Korea since the outset. Can PCR players demonstrate that they have purchased PCR kits from developed countries such as Europe or the United States?

“Siamese Twin” Indonesian Business & Politics at the height of the Pandemic

Can the Siamese twins be separated?
The polemic of PCR pricing, including mandatory PCR tests as a requirement for travel, especially on public transportation, has sparked accusations of a confict of interest. This is not entirely baseless, due to the fact that several public officials have direct links to the PCR enterprises, or hold concurrent positions as commissioners in SOE engaged in the health care sector.

It is indeed ironic that the public is made to shoulder the cost of PCR tests out of their own pockets, while at the same time state institutions failed to effectively manage the budget for Covid-19 prevention. Otherwise, the state could have provided subsidies for PCR tests in tracing and testing efforts. For example, the realization of Covid-19 budgets for the health sector only reached Rp99.5 trillion (63.6%) in 2020. Note that as of October 2021, almost a full year later, only Rp193.9 trillion (53.9%) of a separate budget had been disbursed.

Even though a budget was provided, the community had to shoulder an additional burden due to the state’s failure to respond to the pandemic. On the one hand, they were deprived of their source of income due to mobility restrictions, while on the other side, they were forced to pay for PCR testing with their own money. The health sector subsidy system for PCR tracing and testing, from the standpoint of PCR commercial participants, would diminish their prospects of making big profits. Likewise, for public officials involved in the PCR business, it is easier for them to make a proft without any subsidy because at the same time they may also be the policymakers setting the direction for pandemic policy.

The entanglement of ulterior motives to turn a profit from the position, responsibility and signing power of public officials is a natural consequence if the political-business Siamese twins are maintained. Actually, there is already a regulatory framework in place, designed to prevent any conflict of interest by public officials. For example, Article 1(14) of Law 30/2014 on Government Administration defnes a conflict of interest as a condition where government officials have personal interests to enrich themselves and/or others in using their authority to influence the neutrality and quality of a decision and/or action made and/or taken.

Furthermore, Article 43 (1) of the same Law stipulates the prohibition of public officials from making decisions or taking actions based on personal and/or business interests. The problem is, there are no regulations that explicitly prohibit public officials from doing business. Article 23 of Law 39/2008 on State Ministry, for example, only prohibits ministers from holding concurrent positions as commissioners or directors, either in state-owned or private companies.

Meanwhile, provisions to create good governance, such as Law 28/1999 on the implementation of a clean government free from Corruption, Collusion and Nepotism (KKN) does not reflect today’s context, where public officials are simultaneously engaged in the private sector. The Law explains that criminal offences of corruption, collusion and nepotism are not only carried out by state organizers, between state organizers, but also state organizers with other parties, such as cronies, family members and businessmen. So, what happens when a public official is also a businessman, one who not only has a dual role, but also provides products/services where he/she as a public offcial has a sway over the policy or a decision affecting his or her business?

Meanwhile, the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) itself has not taken any stance regarding PCR pricing and policy inconsistency, considering there is a mandatory PCR test requirement for public transportation users. Even though recently there have been reports made by members of the public indicating corruption by public offcials in the PCR business, the public is pessimistic that the “revised” KPK will have any “fangs” to launch a probe against Jakartan political and business elites.

Apparently, history is repeating itself. What George Junus Aditjondro had warned about in 2001, that Indonesia must rid of the political-business Siamese twins to eradicate the root of corruption, has actually taken a reverse course. The political-business nexus that became the bedrock of the New Order regime for 32 years have now reemerged in various iterations. In the name of pandemic handling, the PCR business has become a showcase of how business and politics are always bedfellows. (Adnan)

Agriculture Ministry / National Police work for food security

Agriculture Ministry / National Police work for food security
National Police Chief General Listyo Sigit Prabowo and Agriculture Minister Syahrul Yasin Limpo after signing an MoU at the Police Headquarters, South Jakarta, Tuesday (11/16/2021). Photo: humas.polri.go.id

IO – The Agriculture Ministry and the National Police signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Tuesday (11/16/2021) regarding
security assistance in the implementation of agricultural development programs.

National Police Chief General Listyo Sigit Prabowo said the MoU was designated to encourage and accelerate the programs of the Agriculture Ministry. “Our hope is how the National Police can support the Agriculture Ministry in establishing food security and to find ways to reduce dependence on imports,” said the General at the National Police Headquarters, Jakarta.

General Listyo Sigit hopes that the MoU might boost the development of the nation’s agricultural sector, including encouraging exports. “In the past two years, we haven’t imported rice. This is certainly an achievement from the Agriculture Ministry. And we will continue to give our support so that we could reduce such dependency, so we can ideally increase exports,” he said.

The National Police Chief believes that the MoU will be followed up with a cooperation agreement executed by the main officers in the National Police and the director-general in the Agriculture Ministry.

The General added that strategies and actions for land use and modernization should be developed to improve food production quality amid areas development that has shrunk agricultural land. Next, it is also
necessary to maximize new lands that have not been cultivated. “And our program is to develop these two points,” he said.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the agricultural sector is able to contribute a fairly large percentage of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Thus, the National Police is committed to supporting and synergizing with the Agriculture Ministry to ensure that the realization of food security, reducing imports and increasing exports can be carried out seamlessly, said the National Police Chief.

Also attending the event, Agriculture Minister Syahrul Yasin Limpo stated that maintaining food security and ensuring food availability for the 273 million Indonesian citizens could not be done solely by the Agriculture Ministry. Thus, he appreciated how the National Police is willing to contribute to maintaining and strengthening the food sector in the country, such as by cultivating the large territory of Indonesia and securing post-harvesting processes and produce.

The Minister hopes that through the MoU, the security in the food sector can be guided optimally by the police. “And the President expects this to happen promptly. Everything must be done optimally to prepare for our food security,” he said. (eka)

General Andika Perkasa officially inaugurated as TNI Commander-in-Chief

General Andika Perkasa officially inaugurated as TNI Commander-in-Chief
The inauguration of General Andika Perkasa as TNI Commander-in-Chief at the State Palace, Jakarta, Wednesday (11/17/2021). Photo: BPMI SETPRES LUKAS

IO – Indonesian President Joko Widodo, a.k.a. Jokowi, inaugurated General Andika Perkasa as the Commander-in-Chief of Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) at the State Palace, Jakarta, Wednesday (11/17/2021).

The inauguration is based on Presidential Decree No. 106/TNI/2021 on the Dismissal and Appointment of the TNI Commander, enacted in Jakarta on Nov. 17, 2021.

After the oath-taking ceremony, a procession of pinning the commander rank and passing the TNI Commander-in-Chief’s baton was conducted by President Jokowi. Distinguished guests witnessing the inauguration include Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto, Coordinating Politics, Legal and Security Minister Mahfud MD, First Lady Iriana Joko Widodo, Vice President Ma’ruf Amin and Mrs. Wury Ma’ruf Amin, the fifth Indonesian President Megawati Soekarnoputri, the Speaker of the House of Representatives (DPR) Puan Maharani, Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung, Deputy Foreign Minister Mahendra Siregar and Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto.

After being inaugurated by the President, TNI Commander-in-Chief General Andika Perkasa declared that he would continue the programs of his predecessor, Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto. “In general, we will continue the work program as we have a limitation on space. The tasks are already outlined in Law No. 34/2004,” he said.

He emphasized that he would vigorously perform his duties as TNI Commander-in-Chief while carrying out evaluations and improvements. “So, I will continue (the programs), but the details of each task may
need a little evaluation and improvement here and there,” he explained.

He said that he was honored to gain the trust of President Jokowi and the support of the DPR to serve as TNI Commander-in-Chief. “To all TNI soldiers throughout Indonesia, I want us to be part of ourselves, of us all, among our family, friends, and relatives. Because we are a part of them,” he said.

At a previous Plenary Meeting of the House (11/8/2021), Army Chief of Staff General Andika Perkasa was approved as TNI Commander-in-Chief. He succeeded the former Commander, Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto.

General Andika Perkasa was born on Dec. 21, 1964. He graduated from the Military Academy in 1987 and was appointed as the Chief of Army Information Service in November 2013, gaining the rank of Brigadier General. In October 2014, Andika was promoted to Commander of the Presidential Security Force, replacing Major General Doni Monardo. He was promoted to the rank of Major General.

Then in May 2016, he was appointed Commander of the XII/Tanjungpura Military Regional Command. In January 2018, he was promoted to Commander of the Army Doctrine, Education and Training Leadership Command with the rank of Lieutenant General.

After six months, in July 2018, he was transferred to become the Commander of the Army Strategic Reserve Command, replacing Lieutenant General Agus Kriswanto. In November 2018, Andika Perkasa officially became a 4-star general, after President Jokowi inaugurated him as the Army Chief of Staff, replacing General Moelyono. (Eka)

KPK Chairman: Political parties must build anti-corruption culture

KPK Chairman: Political parties must build anti-corruption culture
Chairman of the Corruption Eradication Commission Firli Bahuri. Photo: RAYI GIGIH/IO

IO – Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) Chairman Firli Bahuri has stated every political party must embrace an honest attitude and uplift members’ behavior to achieve an anti-corruption culture. The cadre education system should also instills anti-corruption values, said Firli in a briefng of PDI-P National Cadre Education, Jakarta, Tuesday (11/16/2021).

Firli emphasized the importance of building an anti-corruption culture, since corruption has been a common enemy for the Indonesian people. Other common enemies are crimes such as terrorism and drugs, as well as natural and non-natural disasters such as COVID-19. “Let’s create togetherness so that we can get through this crisis,” said Firli.

Similarly, Secretary-General of PDI-P (the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle) Hasto Kristiyanto affirmed his commitment to building an anti-corruption culture within his cadres by taking preventive measures.

Hasto said that his party has made several precautionary efforts to establish an anti-corruption culture. The first is through psychological tests and mandatory Party schooling for every cadre. “Because a psychological test could also measure the aspect of integrity. Party Schools can build awareness, so that power can be used accordingly, without becoming involved in corruption,” said Hasto.

Next would be strengthening a party system. Party regulations stipulate strict sanctions for all party leaders or structural elements who abuse their
power. Hasto said that PDI-P has explicative rules on how to become
a legislative member, regional head, deputy regional head, legislative leader and party leader. “Thus, various forms of corruption within the party could be confronted, such as by eliminating the “one man, one vote and one value” mechanism in the election of party leaders and replacing it with a merit system, including musyawarah (deliberation). That way, costs can be reduced,” said Hasto.

Third, the party leaders in the central committee consistently remind cadres not to abuse their power. “The winning strategy of gotong royong (communal work) is also built as an effort to prevent corruption, by reducing the cost of elections for individuals,” said Hasto.

However, it is undeniable that there are cadres who turn corrupt and are arrested. “Despite repeated warnings, these problems persist. Discipline and awareness to avoid corruption is what the Party strives to build,” said Hasto. (des)

Electability of Prabowo keeps surging

Electability of Prabowo keeps surging
Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto. Photo: JESSICA

IO – Indonesia Survey Center (ISC) has revealed that 22.7% of 1,520 respondents said they would vote for Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto in the 2024 presidential election. Of the fgure mentioned, 10.9% stated they voted for President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo in the 2019 presidential election.

A senior researcher from ISC, Chairul Ansari, observed that this has partially resulted from MoD Prabowo’s decision to take up the Defense Minister position offered by Jokowi.

“What is quite surprising in the survey is that Jokowi’s 2019 voters have started to fall for Prabowo, who was a political rival in the 2014 and 2019 elections,” said Chairul at a press conference, Sunday (11/14).

Chairul said MoD Prabowo’s decision was perceived as his effort to “bury the political hatchet” and normalize 2014 and 2019 political polarization. Thus, MoD Prabowo, who is also Gerindra Party Chairman, has been commended by Jokowi’s supporters. “Prabowo’s democratic stance
deserves the support of Jokowi’s supporters,” said Chairul.

ISC’s survey reveals that MoD Prabowo ranks first as the most voted-for person for the 2024 presidential candidate.

Other figures mentioned include: Ganjar Pranowo (12.6%), Anies Baswedan (12.2%), Sandiaga Uno (5.7%), AHY (4.5%) and Ridwan Kamil (4.3%). Other popular figures voted for in the survey, although with a lower percentage, are: Puan Maharani (3.6%), Airlangga Hartarto (2.9%), Tri Rismaharini (2.7%), Khoffah Indar Parawansa (2.1%), Mahfud MD (1.1%) and Erick Thohir (0.7%). Other familiar names are Gatot Nurmantyo (0.4%), Tito Karnavian (0.4%), Basuki Thajaja Purnama (0.3%), Moeldoko (0.2%) and
Muhaimin Iskandar (0.2%). A total of 23.4% respondents have not decided
who to vote for.


In addition to being the most popular candidate for the 2024 presidential election, ISC claimed that the popularity of Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto nearing the 2024 presidential election is the highest, at 90.3%.

In the ISC survey, MoD Prabowo’s Electability of Prabowo keeps surging Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto JESSICA popularity defeated Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Sandiaga Uno (88.7%) and Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo (88.3%).

Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan places fourth (88%) in the popularity level, and West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil ffth (87.5%).

Chairul mentioned that the high popularity is quite proportional to the level of likeability. In the likeability variable, MoD Prabowo is also on top of the list at 80.2%, followed by Anies (80.1%), Sandiaga (78.8%) and Ganjar (75.3%).

This survey was conducted from Oct. 7 to Oct. 21, 2021. The number of samples was 1,520 respondents, with an estimated 2.5% margin of error. The sampling used a multistage random sampling method with direct interview data collection. (Des)

Haga and Fukuro Teams best at Bridge & Building Competition 2021

Haga and Fukuro Teams best at Bridge & Building Competition 2021
ITS Civil Engineering Team during the closing ceremony of KJI & KBGI 2021. Photos: ITS

Surabaya, IO – Two November Tenth Institute of Technology (Institut Teknologi Sepuluh Nopember – “ITS”) Civil Engineering Department teams won the general championships in the 16th Indonesian Bridge Competition (Kompetisi Jembatan Indonesia – “KJI”) and the 12th Indonesian Building Construction Competition (Kompetisi Bangunan Gedung Indonesia – “KBGI”) simultaneously organized by Pontianak National Polytechnic, West Kalimantan, on Sunday (7/11/2021). Haga Team won a first in the Strongest Steel Framework category in the KJI, while Fukuro Team won first place in the Seismic Performance category in the KBGI.

Head of the ITS Department of Civil Engineering Umboro Lasminto, ST, MSc., stated that ITS participated in three categories in the most prestigious competitions for Indonesia’s civil engineering students. “The Haga Team, Ricardo Fransiskus Karo-Karo and Ganjar Ageng Wicaksono Siswono, participated in the Steel Framework competition in the KJI, while the Fukuro Team, Andy Adhyaksa and Farhan Natanagara, participated in
the Wood and Cold-Rolled Steel categories. We won two out of the three competitions that we participated in. Both teams have given their best, and our achievement in the KJI earned us the title of General Champions,” he stated in the press release received by the Independent Observer on Monday (8/11/2021).

Ricardo of the Haga Team reported that KJI made a judgment in three categories: Most Beautiful Bridge, Strongest Steel Framework, and Bridge with Best Compliance of Implementation to Initial Design. “The steadiness and sturdiness of the bridge are the biggest weights in the overall score. In the competition, we must construct the model ourselves. Therefore, we fabricate the parts in ITS first before taking them to Pontianak for assembly,” he said.

Haga and Fukuro Teams best at Bridge & Building Competition 2021
Haga Team and its mentors.

The bridge model assembled at the site was then loaded with a weight of 60 kilograms at the center point of its length. Flexure of the bridge was then measured, using two dial gauges or transducer. “The flexure of our Team was the smallest among the bridges made by the seven competing universities at less than 0.5 millimeters, so we won the Strongest Bridge category,” Ricardo said.

The Fukuro Team competed in the Cold-Rolled Steel Multi-Storied Building Model category in the KBGI. Five points were judged here: Creativity in Construction; Compliance of Implementation to Design; Seismic Performance; Construction Method; and Environmentally-Friendliness,
Sustainability, and Quake-Resistance in a Futuristic Construction. Andy reported that his team had the highest score in the Seismic Performance indicator, which carried the biggest weight at 25%. In this scoring, the building model was tested, using a quaking table that vibrates at a frequency of 1.5-5.5 Hz and an amplitude of 10 millimeter, with each frequency tested for one minute.

Haga and Fukuro Teams best at Bridge & Building Competition 2021
Andy Adhyaksa and Farhan Natanagara of the Fukuro Team.

Fukuro Team’s model had the biggest residual deviation without collapsing. “As we had the top score in the top indicator, we ended up with the biggest
overall score and were thus named number 1,” he said.

The victory was honestly fought and won. They undertook issues from proposal selection and various revisions before they could compete against other colleges in the Finals, and faced challenges such as the brief time allotted for assembling the models. However, both teams remained optimistic and worked hard. Ricardo hopes that his team can continue to improve their competence and competitive passion in various competitions in upcoming years. “May we be able to achieve then what we cannot achieve yet, and may we continue to bring pride and joy to our alma mater,” he said. (est)

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