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Police & Politics: A threat to democracy

(illustration: IO/Rudraksha)

IO, Jakarta – Minister Tjahjo Kumolo has proposed two Police Inspector Generals to fill in open guberna­torial seats: the Assistant of the Chief of Police in Op­erations (Asops) Inspector General Mochamad Iriawan as Acting Governor of West Java, and Head of the Pro­fessional and Security Division (Kadiv Propam) of In­donesian Police, Inspector General Martuani Sormin, as Acting Governor of North Sumatra. Tjahjo reasoned that the appointment of Indonesian police officials as Acting Governors would be justified by security rea­sons. They would be stationed in conflict-prone areas during the execution of Regional Elections (Pilkada)

Neutrality of Indonesian Police Under Suspicion
These appointments raise some polemic issues, and critics such as Siti Zuhro, a Senior Researcher from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences. She said that even though Indonesia does not have a Bill of Government Ethics in place, does not mean that the daily running of the Government is a free-for-all. The Law concerning the Civil Institutions of the State (Aparatur Sipil Negara – “ASN”) and Law concerning Pilkada provide clear provisions concerning any void in a regional official position.

Article 201 Paragraphs 9 and 10 of Law No. 10 year 2016 concerning pilkada (regional elections) states that open gubernatorial, regency, and may­orship positions shall be refilled from the ranks of medium-high ranking functionaries (jabatan tinggi madya), defined as ASN positions as regulated in Article 13 Law No. 5 year 2014 concerning ASN, wherein jabatan tinggi madya specifically exclude positions in the environs of the Indonesian Armed Forces and the Indonesian Police. Article 108 of the ASN Law further states that higher levels of civil officialdom shall be filled in by Civil Servants (PNS). Article 109 of ASN Law states that higher levels of civil officialdom may be filled by officials of the Indo­nesian Armed Forces or Indonesian Police once they resign from active duty.

The provisions of Article 109 reiterate that offices in the Indonesian Armed Forces/Indonesian Police do not include high officialdom, because in order to hold such a high seat, they must first resign from the Indonesian Armed Forces/Indonesian Police. Therefore, it can be concluded that positions in the Indonesian Armed Forces/Indonesian Police are not classified as jabatan tinggi madya, so these officers cannot be elected to fill any void in a Regional Head (Kepala Daerah – “KDH”) position. Based on the provisions of these laws, serious, careful, and accurate consideration of the appointment of Indonesian Police officials as Acting Governors is necessary.

Appraising this development, Vice Chairman of Commis­sion II of the House of Representatives (De­wan Perwakilan Rakyat – “DPR”) of RI, A. Riza Patria, said that the appointment of acting governors from the police element would tamper with the neutrality of the police. This is underscored by the fact that in the Era of Reform, there is an agreement to maintain separation of army and the police from the political arena, to maintain their neutrality. ‘The Reform Era has rules of the game in place, in the Indonesian Po­lice Law No. 2/2002, Article 28 Paragraph 1, which states that the Indonesian Police shall remain neu­tral. Also, Paragraph 3 states that members of the Indonesian Police may hold positions outside of the police only after having resigned or retired from the Force,’ he said.

A similar view was stated by Neta S. Pane, Chair­woman of the Presidium of the Indonesian Police Watch (IPW). She finds the Minister of the Interior’s plan to appoint two officers of the Indonesian Police as Acting Governor to be a very dangerous idea that would cripple democracy, because it might set a prec­edent for the Double-Functioning (Dwifungsi) of the Indonesian Police. This while one of the principles that the Reform Movement fought for when bringing down the New Order is the termination of the Dwifungsi of the Armed Forces. (The idea applied by the New Or­der Government was that the Indonesian Armed Forc­es has the double-pronged duty of maintaining the security and order of the nation and of regulating it.)

‘The authorities must be able to maintain the in­dependence and professionalism of the Indonesian Police, and must not draw the Indonesian Police into political matters, especially creating the Dwifungsi of the Indonesian Police. Such action would damage the reputation of the Indonesian Police, destroy its profes­sionalism, and raise jealousy among the Indonesian Armed Forces, because the Dwifungsi of the Armed Forces is eliminated, but the Dwifungsi of the Indo­nesian Police is allowed in its place instead,’ he said.

Conflicting Interests
One of the things Siti regrets is that in the Pilkada process, bureaucracy tends to be a forum for con­flicting political interests. ‘We all know that the head officers of any institution or ministry are political positions. But what we must not do is play around with the internal rules of the game in bureaucracy, because bureaucracy is a main cogwheel in the devel­opment and running of the country. The bureaucracy and ASN are servants of the country, of the people. They must never be servants of the authorities or any political party. Therefore, bureaucracy as an institu­tion must not be intervened with by political powers, because it makes the bureaucracy into partisans that only serves the current authorities and parties in power. That is a short-term game with a short fuse. Bureaucracy should be the unifier of the nation and the people, because ASN’s duties extend from Sabang to Merauke (i.e. throughout the Archipelago). It is the bureaucracy that maintains the integrity of this na­tion. If there is nothing left of bureaucratic indepen­dence because temporary needs destroy it, that is very dangerous,’ she reiterated.

Meanwhile, Neta urges civil bureaucrats not to tempt or involve Indonesian Police into practical poli­tics or civil governance, especially in view of the large number of (former) police and military generals who participate in Pilkada 2018. The existence of In­donesian Police officials holding the Acting Governor seat would have major negative impact to Indonesian Police itself, ‘Especially in West Java area, the existence of a police offi­cial as Acting Governor might result in charges of lack of independence and professionalism of the Indone­sian Police from many parties. In a dangerous situation like now, i.e. a Pilkada, Indonesian Police would do well to maintain its professionalism and independence, and concentrate only on their duty as police, i.e. maintain order and security. In case of conflicts during the Pilkada, the Indonesian Police can better main­tain its standing among all existing groups and not get accused of sid­ing with any particular group. IPW does not want Indonesian Police to be accused of involving its generals as Acting Governor merely to secure gubernatorial victory for candidates from specific parties. Such unfortu­nate impression would be detrimen­tal to the future of the Indonesian Police,’ Neta explained.

Similar with Neta, Riza said that pulling the Indonesian Police into the maelstrom of political fracas like Pilkada in West Java and North Sumatra is regrettable – it gives the impression as if there are no other bureaucrats available outside of the Indonesian Police to serve as Act­ing Governor. ‘Especially since the main duty and function of Indone­sian Police according to the man­date of the law is to maintain order in society and uphold the law, not as bureaucrats in the government,’ he said.

The Gerindra Party politician fur­ther said that the reasoning of the Minister of the Interior for appoint­ing elements of the police in West Java and North Sumatra for nation­al security is patently unacceptable. ‘Does having a police officer as a governor mean automatic security in conflict-prone areas? Look at the conflicts in Aceh, Maluku, North Maluku, and Papua – none of the standing officials ever came from outside of the Ministry of the Interi­or,’ he said. He further notes that it would be much wiser if the Ministry of the Interior appoints officials from among the ASN.

The decision made by the Min­ister of the Interior rouses public suspicion. Is there an agenda to push for specific candidates, with ramifications that extend to the General Elections of 2019? Siti found such suspicions to be nat­ural. She believes that as we are approaching the Parliamentary Elections (Pileg) and Presidential Elections (Pilpres) in 2019, all po­litical forces are calculating for the competition in 2019.

‘PDIP as the winning party of 2014 would naturally feel discomfit­ed about losing in Banten and SCR of Jakarta – why add defeat in oth­er regions? It’s fine wanting to win, all parties do – but there are risks attached, especially since this is the ruling party. The risk is that it will participate in another election, so if now they make negative political investments, the people would cer­tainly remember that. Why would they re-elect a party that would shamelessly do anything to win? This is something that everyone must remember: being a political party is like being a merchant – you sell your merchandise. Well, is your merchandise attractive? How would you package it? Political parties need to be skillful in packaging their wares, in winning the people’s heart. When they are in power, they must not make blunders in their decisions that would ultimately damage them­selves,’ she said.

Siti further reiterates how the Minister of the Interior’s decision is in fact a blunder. ‘That’s because it’s clear, to secure the network. But they mustn’t forget that this is planning at elite level, and the peo­ple have full authority to select their own leaders. The people have their own preferences,’ she said.

Neta further added that the Min­ister of the Interior should immedi­ately recant such rogue ideas. The Minister of the Interior must un­derstand that the duty of the two police generals he would have as Acting Governor would be onerous, especially for securing simultane­ous Pilkadas across the country. How could the Asops, for instance, maintain the country’s security during the infamously vicious time of the Pilkada properly if he also has to perform duties as the Acting Gov­ernor West Java? His original duties extend beyond the borders of East Java. The same thing applies to the Kadiv Propam, slated to be the Acting Governor of North Sumatra. Both have the duty of maintaining the neutrality of the entire forces of the police in the field. How would they be honest and fair referees, if they were also forced to play?

‘IPW hopes that the Indonesian Police reject the plan and sugges­tion of the Minister of the Interior, so that the Indonesian Police can maintain its concentration on the nation’s security in Pilkada 2018, as well as maintaining its profes­sionalism, sense of proportion, and independence, even if 10 of its for­mer officers participate in Pilkada. The position of Acting Governor should remain among the officials of the Ministry of the Interior, be­cause the Dwifungsi of Indonesian Police violates Law No. 2 year 2002 concerning the Police,’ she said. (Dessy Aipipidely)

Questioning the appointment of a ‘caretaker governor’ for the police

Bambang Rukminto
Police Observers ISeSS Institute for Security and Strategic Studies

IO – Law No. 2/2002 in Article 28 Paragraph 1 states that ‘the police of the Republic of Indonesia are to remain neutral in political life and shall not engage in practical political activities.’ Article 28 Paragraph 3 of the police Law No. 2/2002 states that ‘Members of the Indonesia State Police can occupy positions outside the police after resigning or retiring from police service ‘.UU 2/2002 is still in effect, as there has been no change.

The discourse of proposing the appointment of a ‘caretaker governor’ for West Java and North Sumatra from active high-ranking Police officers has aroused concern amongst the general public. Is this a strategic political move by President Jokowi? Pilkada is certainly an arena of political struggle in the era of democracy. Dragging police into the middle of a political battle is not really a smart move for this regime, or for the police themselves. It is as if there were no other bureaucratic group outside the police to fill the post of caretaker governor.

The Jokowi regime did not want to touch the leadership case of Kapolri Dai Bachtiar, who openly supported Megawati in the 2004 election. The main duties and functions of the police in accordance with the mandate of the Act are to maintain public order and law enforcement, not to work as a government functionary. President Jokowi should be wise in deciding on a proposal that would obviously increase the burden and create a useless dilemma.

Drawing the police into the political sphere will clearly not benefit Jokowi’s image as a representative of democratic civilian leadership. In addition, it will also be unprofitable for the development of a modern image of the police in the future. On the other hand, as the holder of the mandate of the country, according to Law 2/2002 Police will be stuck with political pragmatism that rolls along for 5 years.

As a state apparatus, a professional police force should be neutral from any political appeal of the regime. The duties of the police are not tied to any regime, but to the state. The regime may change, but the police must keep straight by maintaining the trust of the state. It is undeniable that the governorship is a political office. It cannot be denied that the appointment of a caretaker governor is seen as a political strategy. The proposal for a caretaker governor appointed from the institution of the police of the Republic of Indonesia is inevitably perceived as a politically strategic move of the regime.

On the other hand, in accordance with article 28, paragraph 3 of 2/2002, ‘Members of the police of the Republic of Indonesia may occupy positions outside the police after resigning or retiring from police service. This is the reason that should be the basis of the Chief of Police in questioning the urgency of the proposed appointment of a member as caretaker Governor. Is there no other candidate? Why must a high-ranking police officer be considered for caretaker governor? Chief of Police Tito Karnavian wishes to pass on what tradition for the future of the police? Is it just professional, modern, reliable jargon or will they really build a modern and professional police infrastructure? All depends on the policy options at this time.

Trump Rebalances with Asia

When Donald Trump first entered the Oval Office, there was widespread apprehension across Asia his leadership would mark a dramatic shift away from the Obama administration’s ‘pivot’, or policy of rebalancing. With his signature platform of “America First’ and delivering on his promise to remove the U.S.A. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, there was a pervasive sense Washington would turn more isolationist and protectionist.

Irawan Ronodipuro

IO – Yet as previous presidencies have shown us, what is said and promised on the campaign trail is often discarded as the realities of office set in. And for those who are watching Washington closely, Trump’s past rhetoric is no longer being matched by his policies on Asia.

In fact, there is accumulating evidence Trump and his team has started to formulate and execute a strategic vision of engagement with Asia that will prove more assertive than under his predecessors; one example is Barack Obama, who, although he was considered an eloquent statesman, was often criticized by seasoned diplomats such as Henry Kissinger for being too passive with other great powers such as Russia and China.

Until now, Trump’s Asia policy has been viewed primarily through the lens of his tough and no-nonsense stance on North Korea. But there is much more than meets the eye: Over the past month, starting with the White House’s release last December of its National Security Strategy, the Pentagon’s new National Defense Strategy and intimations Washington is considering coming back into the TPP, it is becoming increasingly clear the U.S.A. is not willing to cede influence to China in the Asia-Pacific.

Just last week, Trump showed his hand in the Swiss snow-crested ski resort of Davos as he made the closing keynote speech at the World Economic Forum. While most commentators noted there was nothing new in the president’s speech, his remarks about the TPP—a 12-nation agreement among the United States and Pacific rim countries—immediately caught the attention of Asia. Talking about trade deals, Trump said the U.S.A. is “prepared to negotiate mutually beneficial, bilateral trade agreements with all countries,” and “this will include the countries within the TPP.” But what came next in his speech was especially interesting: “We would consider negotiating [with TPP members] either individually or as a group if it is in the interests of all.” And in a post-speech interview with CNBC, Trump confirmed “If we did a substantially better deal, I would be open to TPP.”

While Trump and his economics team mull over the possibility of coming back into the TPP, the Pentagon’s National Defense Strategy shows Trump and his generals have few qualms about deterring China.

Just a few days after issuing the strategy paper, which departs from previous ones emphasizing the threat of terrorism and focuses instead on “great power competition” with Russia and China, U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis visited Vietnam and Indonesia last week to discuss the strengthening of bilateral defense cooperation.

In the larger context of U.S. defense policy, the Pentagon considers Indonesia and Vietnam as critical junior partners in the so-called Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or “Quad”, which is an informal alliance between the United States, Japan, Australia and India. Since its creation in 2007, there has been speculation it could eventually emerge as Asia’s version of NATO.

In talks with the Vietnamese leadership, Mattis focused on America’s commitment to upholding the freedom of navigation in the Pacific. Despite its turbulent past relations during the Cold War, Vietnam today is a close ally of the United States as it continues to dispute Beijing’s extra-legal claims of sovereignty over two main island chains in the South China Sea which has resulted in repeated clashes with Chinese boats.

In Indonesia, Mattis met with President Joko Widodo, Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi, Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu and Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Wiranto to discuss maritime cooperation. In drawing a contrast to China, Mattis noted “The point I want to make is, we respect Asia’s sovereign nations with a sovereign voice and sovereign decisions, and we don’t think anyone else should have a veto authority over their economic, their diplomatic or their security decisions.”

For sure, the U.S. defense establishment is keenly aware of Indonesia’s importance as part of what the Pentagon’s new National Defense Strategy refers to as its “networked security architecture” in Asia. Mattis is certainly appreciative of Jakarta’s pushing back Beijing by renaming a portion of the South China Sea as the North Natuna Sea, and as part of his effort to strengthen defense cooperation there were serious talks about expanding training programs with the special forces unit Kopassus and the procurement of U.S. military equipment which, reportedly, would cover dozens of aircraft valued at more than $4 billion.

As a long-term historical ally of the United States dating back to the Soeharto era, Indonesia should warmly welcome the prospect of stronger defense cooperation. A more stable and peaceful future for Asia rests firmly upon the United States providing a counterbalance to China as it continues to expand rapidly its power and influence in the region. Whilst some members of Jokowi’s cabinet have been inclined in recent years to tilt more heavily toward China, the president should be mindful more balanced relations to include the United States is within the national interest.

The new look of Gelora Bung Karno sports complex

The new look of Gelora Bung Karno Stadium. (photo: IO/Yoga Agusta)

IO – It is only natural that we are proud of Indonesia’s success at being selected as the host of the biggest sports event in Asia. This is not the first time Indonesia has been selected to host the Asian Games, however. The first time the event was ever held, was in 1962, Indonesia also had the honour of holding the once every four years’ event. Asian Games XVIII will commence on 18th August – 2nd September 2018 simultaneously in two cities in Indonesia: Jakarta and Palembang. This is the first time in history that the Asian Games have been held in two cities at once.

The government is making various preparations, including renovating the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium Complex. Even though it is very costly, the government has made room in its budget for the event that is only a few months away. The infra structure constructed includes renovation of the main stadium in the Gelora Bung Karno complex, which costs Rp 769,690,878,000.00. The construction is completed and President Jokowi inaugurated the stadium on 14th January 2018. Other constructions completed include the Gelora Bung Karno Training Facility (costing Rp 153,819,435,000.00), renovation of the aquatic stadium (Rp 274,675,852,000.00), and renovation of the softball, baseball and basketball playing areas, for a total of Rp 212,892,000,000.00.

The government’s commitment in welcoming this Asian sports event is amazing. After all, there are many things to prepare, including the renovation of the Gelora Bung Karno (GBK) stadium. (alen)

The following are some of the ‘new look’ features of Gelora Bung Karno stadium:

Athletic arena. (photo: IO/Yoga Agusta)
Istora Senayan. (photo: IO/Yoga Agusta)
Tennis outdoor. (photo: IO/Yoga Agusta)
Aquatic stadium. (photo: IO/Yoga Agusta)

Any Kusuma Dewi’s life transformation

Any Kusuma Dewi, from a socialite, now transforms into a person who cares about the needs of people. (photo: IO/Yoga Agusta)

IO, Jakarta – Getting a decent education is the basic right of every Indonesian child. This is what underlies Any Kusuma Dewi founded Tri Kusuma Bangsa Foundation in 2012. Through this foundation, she opened education classes in Kota Tua, North Jakarata and Taman Ismail Marzuki, Central Jakarta.

Any, familiarly greeted, told the Independent Observer, before establishing Tri Kusuma Bangsa, she has experienced various humanitarian activities. For example sending a package of medicine during the Tsunami in Aceh. Then sent the Qur’an during the earthquake in Padang. Not stop there, when five thousand houses were submerged in Banten, Any carried the aid of medicines and groceries as much as 2 thousand packages.

Admitted by Any, the momentum of founding the foundation came after she returned from Banten. “While I was there, I had time to visit a grandmother who was chronically ill and could not wake up. The grandmother was alone. In the shack there was only a mattress and a broken table which on top of it was a moldy bread. When I saw that, I cried. That’s a slap for me. Like somebody is asking, “how much money do you spend in a day just for fun?, “Any said vigorously.

Focus on Children’s Education
Any always remembers this event. He also decided to have a meaningful life for others. Through Tri Kusuma Bangsa, Any and volunteers opened several classes of Education in the Kota Tua. She started the class for playgroup and kindergarten children. They are taught to read, write and count. Then the Month Class, for elementary school children grade 3 and 4. And Class of the Sun, for elementary school grade 5-6. “For these children they are taught mathematics, English and general knowledge,” she said.

Not only that, there is also a Rainbow Class. This is a special class for children with disabilities. The education pattern is somewhat different from other general classes. Here one student will be educated by one teacher. By applying that method, the pupils will get special attention and preferential treatment according to their special needs.

To educate in the Rainbow Class, the teacher does require extra patience, because the tutor should repeat the same lesson many times until the student really understands. Not to mention to understand the condition of students and their needs, so as to provide guidance according to the portion and their respective conditions.

Currently the children who studied in the Kota Tua are 150 people. They used to study on Saturday, from 3-6 pm. Because seeing the needs in the field, since 2 years ago, Any has opened a class in Taman Ismail Marzuki. The number of students is only 30 people. They study on Sunday, 9am – 1pm. Not only learning, Any also provides food.

Generally, the children who study in the Kota Tua or Taman Ismail Marzuki, are street children, children of duafa (poor) and diffable. Especially for street children, they have a job as a tissue seller. “In the early days, they worked as buskers and beggars, but now they are generally sellers of tissues,” Any said.

Any further said, although the learning activities has lasted for 6 years, but she still remembers the challenges faced during the early start of the process. At that time, she was challenged by the students’ parents and thugs around the school.

“If their parents initially complained because the children who instead of getting money, they even learnt. However, over time, their parents even want their children to learn. Even if their children do not study, they will report it to me. I am grateful with the awareness of these parents, “explained Any.

While the thugs, when the first 2 years of the learning process took place, every Saturday, she must pay Rp.300 thousand. “My place of activity was a motorcycle parking lot, So they counted 3 hours of income, so I had to replace the amount they used to receive. Not only that, from where the activity to my car was parked, I was usually visited by 3-4 thugs. I give them money, because this is for my equality as well as the volunteers,” Any continued.

When she started this activity 6 years ago, she settled all the necessities. However, over time, there are already donors who help her. “As the time passes, there are more donors, generally close friends. Alhamdulillah there are already some supports. Like food in Kota Tua, every Saturday I need about 150 boxes and there are always regular donors,” she said.

Not only activities for street children, Any also has foster children in Blitar, East Java and Cilincing North Jakarta, which numbers to hundreds of people. “This foster children if they go to public school, I will provide pocket money and transport, while for the private school students, I will pay the school fee.”he said.

Inspired by Grandma
Any said, her caring for the needy is inspired by her grandmother, Mbak Sarno Putri. Since childhood, her grandmother who owns a restaurant in Blitar, often provides food to anyone. “Every day she always distributes free food to anyone. So she is very famous. For example, she will let a pedicab (becak) driver who has no money, or ordinary people to have a free meal. Her principle of life is like this, for her grandchildren, if for example they ride a bicycle or motorcycle and tire is flat on the road, there will be a help, because Eyang (grandmother) ever instilled goodness for others, “he said.

From a socialite with a hedonist lifestyle, now Any transforms into a person who cares about the needs of people. “When I founded the foundation, I left the old world, Arisan (mingled with friends), Hanging around, shopping branded goods, and so on. I am transformed, and this transformation makes my life better and I find happiness here, “she said.

One of the values of life she holds is that when we share, -sharing what we have, money, knowledge and energy- we will not become poor. (Dessy Aipipidely)

ITS takes first prize at ITB Civil Engineering Expo

Institut Teknologi Sepuluh Nopember won first place in the Civil Engineering Expo (ICEE). (photo: IO/ITS)

IO, Surabaya – Another proud achievement was earned by a team of four students from the Tenth of November Institute of Technology (Institut Teknologi Sepuluh Nopember – ‘ITS’) Surabaya, specifically from the Department of Civil Infrastructural Engineering and Marine Transportation. Presenting a concept for resolving difference of rice prices in Indonesia, and specifically in Papua, the team won first place in the Civil Engineering Expo (ICEE) held by the Bandung Institute of Technology (Institut Teknologi Bandung – ITB) for three days, until Sunday (28/1).

Inspired by the steep difference of the price of rice in the Province of Papua, up to 32% and more, along with a continued rising demand for rice every year, the team, known as ‘945-WT’, created an efficient new system for distributing rice to Papua.

Mujaddid Ma’ruf, the Head of Team 945-WT, stated that their ‘I-LOG’ protocol is able to integrate logistical and marine transportation systems, with the objective of developing Eastern Indonesia. For its logistical system, the team, guided by Achmad Mustakim, S.T., M.T. and Hafiizh Imaddudin, S.T., M.T. created the most effective sea lanes, based on existing Pelni marine toll routes.

The first route runs from Tanjung Perak Port to Sorong, while another extends from Tanjung Perak to Jayapura, and a final one from Tanjung Perak to Merauke. ‘These three ports were selected because there exists the Trans Papua route that connects all three of these by land,’ said the Civil Infrastructural Engineering Diploma 3 student.

The team earned their award for a ‘Call for Paper’ (CFP) themed ‘Innovation in Developing Marine Systems and Infrastructures to Support the Logistics System in Indonesia’ as it shows innovations implemented in marine transportation, i.e., constructing optimal usage ships with transportable live weight of 500 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent) and weight at 10,000 DWT (Dead Weight Tonnage). ‘We also modify the berths along piers and expand the container depots, so that incoming vessels can moor at them,’ explained Mujaddid further.

When asked why he selected rice as the commodity transported, Mujaddid explained that despite the large amounts of sago available in Papua, most residents are migrants whose main dish is rice. This results in a high demand, while subsidized rice is only able to satisfy 24% of needs. ‘In this way, we intend to reduce differences in the price of rice from 32% to 6%,’ he said.

In this competition, the ITS team defeated the ITB host teams that must satisfy themselves in II, III, and IV places. Of the 5 finalists, ITS was the only team outside ITB, yet still managed to come out ahead of the other 4. (ITS)

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‘Kopi Es Tak Kie’, the oldest coffee shop in Chinatown

Es Tak Kie Coffee shop in the Alley of Gloria, Glodok. (photo: IO/Raihan)

IO, Jakarta – In the past, Gloria Lane (Gang Gloria) became a legend, dense with a row of sellers of various types of food and snacks on both sides. The official map of DKI Jakarta currently names this ‘Pintu Besar III Street’. However, this alley is better known by its old name. The Independent Observer team dropped in on Ice Coffee Tak Kie, one of the more famous coffee shops. The alley is off Gajah Mada Street, Pinangsia Village, Taman Sari district, West Jakarta. Kopi Tak Kie was established in the Dutch colonial period and survived the colonisation by Japanese, and is still open for business today. When entering the establishment, the atmosphere will remind us classical Chinese times. Chairs carved of teak are used. The Independent Observer then meets Willy, who is a 4th generation member of the family that runs Ice Coffee Tak Kie. Willy explains that Tak Kie has been in business since 1927, started by Liong Kwie Tjong, a native of Canton. Initially, it was just an ordinary coffee shop. Then in the 1940s, the son of the founder, Lion Tjoeng, who was also a 2nd generation Indonesian-Chinese, continued his father’s business, and opened a small diner in Gloria Lane. In 1976, Ayauw, son of Lion Tjoeng (and also the father of Willy, a 3rd generation family member), continued the legacy. Ayauw combines several types of coffee, with a medium roast process; Robusta and Arabica from Lampung became finally known as ‘Kopi Es Tak Kie’. Tak Kie’s name is taken from Mandarin, the word ‘tak’ means wise, simple, and what is. While the word ‘kie’ itself is familiar to many people. Behind the meaning of the name of the store, Liong Kwie Tjong wanted his successors to always be simple and work hard. Willy argues that Tak Kie has undergone many changes since the era of social media has penetrated all regions in Indonesia, and especially the capital city. While the first customers who came to his coffee shop were people who lived nearby, or heard about it through word of mouth, when entering the present, many know Kopi Tak Kie through social media. Not just Indonesians: expats also often stop by Tak Kie after a visit to the Old City. They come from countries such as China, America, Canada and Australia. Although already established for 91 years, Tak Kie is never out of date. Willy said that he was running branches outside Chinatown, such as opening a stand in one of the malls in the middle of town, following the food bazaar, and planning to set up a stand at a Food Garden event in Kemang. He intends to create a social media presence through Instagram for a younger generation who love coffee and can become familiar with Kopi Es Tak Kie. Although many other restaurants or coffee shops are more modern, willy is not worried. ‘We do not need to follow others. Still simple coffee with milk, that’s all,’ he said. Willy adheres to the words of advice from his great-grandfather, Lio Kwie Tjong. ‘Always remember that we have to be honest and dignified – that’s the key. We must never give up, even though when we do business we must do it with pride, dignity and honesty. Never cheat when trading, or there will be consequences. Maintain your standards’ Willy concludes, remembering his grandfather. (Raihan Ismail)

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Nadi Gallery: character of gallery according to the taste of the owner

Biantoro Santoso. (photo: IO/Aldo)

IO, Jakarta – Having been around since the year 2000, Nadi Gallery has always been consistent of waving or even showing off of international relationships abroad. The Gallery has a good reputation for hosting events. His work is recognized on both a national and international scale. Nadi Gallery officially opened on September 15, 2000. Located in West Jakarta, Nadi Gallery was founded by artist Biantoro Santoso, an Indonesian . His devotion to promote contemporary art in Indonesia has led to this Nadi Gallery.

In Indonesian language nadi means “aorta”, “artery”, or “vein” that generates idea for the development of art in Indonesia. Without a pulse, the aorta will instantly lose its significance for life. In particular, the program of exhibition of artists aspires to bring about an emerging development of contemporary art in Indonesia.

All exhibitions held by Nadi Gallery are specifically designed with independent curator. The exhibits are scheduled for at least six times in the year. The exhibition is meant to present the Indonesian artists from all over the world with high-quality, unique and innovative achievements.

By adopting a strategic approach to enhancing the attractiveness of the art, the exhibition at Nadi Gallery also looks at the commercial aspects of the work presented. Therefore, in addition to promoting artistic development and offering to their respective teams a space to demonstrate their quality, the Gallery also invites the collectors to enjoy and purchase paintings from Nadi Gallery exhibits.

The gallery is open to dialogue and collaboration with various parties, both individual and non-legal institutions. Nadi Gallery intends to put themselves at the centre of cultural expression in Indonesia. There are three areas of mutual involvement, the creation , mediation, and appreciation. The creation part is the artists duty. Mediation are the tasks of museums, curators, critics, promoters and journalists. Appreciation is the recognition from society, government and collectors.

On this occasion, with Biantoro Santoso as the owner and the Manager of the Gallery, alluded to the manner in which the Office was working to run its mediation. As breathtaking, his character, and his other views are presented to the Independent Observer.

How did it come to the end of the gallery?
There are a few that make Nadi Gallery present, among them Nadi gallery exists because of the economic situation in Indonesia. The company I founded with friends was greatly hit by the economic crisis. Less busy in the office to fill the emptiness and reduce stress of the crisis. Friends encourage me to open the gallery, because they think I have the ability to do so.

Around the end of 1999 I joined Alm. I GAK Murniasah in his studio, in Ubud, Bali. At that time, about 600 works which, are very good, but there are not many exhibitors to show them. At the time I bought some of their exhibits and I made a promise to make them a single exhibition although at the time Nadi Gallery had not been founded. That promise made me open the gallery soonest.

After making sure to open the gallery, for the opening ceremony I asked Heridono to help with the single exhibition. And the exhibition itself opened by Romo Sindhunata. For the preparation Hendro Wiyanto helped me much, from organizing the gallery, preparing the program and others to discuss the two.

Vision, mission, and principles?
Bintoro answered the question by using Hendro Wiyanto quotes. Nadi Gallery is an art gallery in Jakarta that was founded on September 15, 2000. Along with that they opened single exhibition featuring the works of the reputable artist Hero Done. ‘Nadi’ means aortic rods, which will capture our imagination about the existence of a pulse.Without the pulse the aorta will be meaningless for life.

In the first instance, the main programs of the exhibition are exhibited with a view to the recent development in Indonesia which lasted a long time. The exhibitions held at Nadi Gallery are always planned together with independent curator and guest curator, and are scheduled for at least six times in the year.

In this scope Nadi Gallery is at the forefront to facilitate art programs and to encourage artists. (Aldo)

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The heritage embroidery of Inez Mardiana

Inez Mardiana with her MURI plaque at the Jakarta Textile Museum. (photo: IO/Alfino Suhanta)

Inez Mardiana is one of Jakarta’s best kept fashion secrets. In the so called good old days referred to in Indonesia as Tempo Dulu, society ladies used to go to their favourite batik producers and their preferred kebaya makers and order the specific designs or motifs of their choice. In the Chinese year of the dragon a lady might order dragon motifs for a new batik and kebaya. An avid bridge player might order playing cards as the theme of her sarong and kebaya. The bridge cards would be incorporated into its lace trim or edging. This resulted in the creation of many charming and unusual kebayas with matching batiks that reflected not only the tastes and fashions of the time but also some social history

IO – During the Second World War there was no cotton available for batiks and kebayas and after the war women began to wear the more practical European style of dress. Slowly, the practice of ordering batiks and kebayas with specific designs or motifs became less common. Ibu Inez has done much to revive this charming tradition. As the first to design kebayas with wayang motifs in their borders she has been recorded in Indonesia’s Guinness Book of Records known as MURI. The most attractive of these wayang motifs are the ones of Indonesia’s fat clown Semar who is neither king nor god but a wise figure with a wide world view.

Kebayas with lace work on their borders or edging have been produced in Indonesia since the 18th century with influences from China, India and Europe. Several areas in Indonesia are known for their fine lace work and embroidery in West Sumatra, Java, Madura and Bali. The Minister for Women’s Empowerment and the Protection of Children has expressed concern that the younger generation continue to learn the craft of lace making and embroidery.

At 70 years of age Ibu Inez Mardiana is still an incurable romantic. Her earliest memories are of living in Pekalongan where her father was wedana or district officer of Kajen in Pekalongan on the north coast of Java. Today Pekalongan is the largest batik producing town in Indonesia with seventy percent of Indonesian batiks produced here. Inez memories are not only of batik, however. She remembers how early in the morning right after prayers the workers would go down to the jasmine fields and pick the flowers until 5 am. With baskets hanging on their backs in the stillness before the dawn they hurriedly tossed jasmine buds over their shoulders first with the right hand, then the left, back and forth. Once the dawn appeared they stopped picking because then the jasmine buds would open in full and their scent would diminish. The jasmine was destined to scent the green tea drunk in Java. “My childhood memories are of steaming cups of Javanese green tea laced with the fragrance of jasmine buds,” said Ibu Inez. This memory created her brand name: “Green Jasmine Teas by Inex Mardiana”.

Kajen on the outskirts of Pekalongan was in the 1960s not a safe area, rampant with bands of robbers connected with the Darul Islam rebels who wanted to create an Islamic state. They were later defeated and Ibu Inez remembers her father, Raden Hadi Sumarto once being called to meet the head of the robber bands unarmed, “Before leaving, he told us that if he was not back by 5 am it would mean that something bad had happened.” The whole family waited anxiously all night but he returned after working out an agreement to make the area safer. Today Kajen is a very progressive place. “In part I like to think because of my father’s efforts,” explained Ibu Inez.

The family moved to Semarang where Inez learnt tailoring and couture and where she married her cousin who worked for the large government owned plantation companies that grew sugarcane, tea and other agricultural products. Later he was moved to Jakarta where she ran a small tailoring business employing several seamstresses. Her first customers were from the state owned agricultural companies. She started by making uniforms for their employees.

Ibu Inez began collecting antique kebayas to study the embroidery designs as well as the lace edgings of the kebayas. In 1986 she began creating kebayas inspired by the designs from the old kebayas which she then began to sell. In Java, the town of Tasikmalaya is known for the best embroiderers and lace craftsmen and in the 1980s they still frequently came to houses in Jakarta offering their wares but Ibu Inez was not satisfied with their designs and began searching for a good craftsman who might be willing to work at her atelier and stay in Jakarta. In 1986 she found a talented old man called Pak Uli who came to work permanently for her. Now she has 4 women who work at her atelier and another 8 who take their work home.

In 2009 Ibu Inez also began designing batiks to match her kebayas and vice versa. She now orders her batiks from Pekalongan, Cirebon and Jogjakarta.

In 2012 the theme for Jakarta Fashion Week was “Betawi Legends” and Ibu Inez had the idea of producing kebayas with matching batiks of some well-known Betawi legends. These included: the ondel-ondel which are the two giant puppets that are a symbol of the city of Jakarta and which are believed to ward off evil. She also used the Chinese barongsai or lion dog motif, the gardenia which was a flower often grown in Betawi (original inhabitants of Jakarta) gardens for its sweet scent. Ibu Inez also created an eye catching kebaya and batik combination of Si Ptitung, a figure known as the Robin Hood of Batavia (old name of Jakarta). Si Pitung’s jaunty figure in Malay costume with black pici on his head, brandishing a knife appears in the lace edging of Ibu Ineze’s kebaya and batik. Inez also produced an image of the mosque where Si Pitung learnt to pray and read the Qur’an and also traditional martial arts. In this series also appear kebayas with the traditional Betawi mask and cokek dances. Her dramatic and colourful kebayas and batiks proved a success and by Ibu Inez business began to cater to by many of Jakarta’s high society ladies.

Last year the regional branch of the National Handicrafts Council asked Ibu Inez to help produce kebayas and batiks with the theme “Jakarta Icons”. Veronica Tan, the wife of previous governor of Jakarta, had produced some kebayas with a national monument motif but considered them not very attractive. So, they turned to Ibu Inez Mardiana who created kebayas with Jakarta plants such as the blue sweet pea flower, the flaming red flamboyant blossoms, yellow sirih leaves and the famous Betawi snake fruit from Pondok. The most striking Jakarta icon is her brahmini kite with its white head and chest feathers which is not only the bird symbol of Jakarta but also the prototype for the national garuda bird. Ibu Inez had matching batiks created.

Ibu Inez themes also include Chinese motifs such as the goddess of mercy and compassion, Kwan Im, dragons and phoenixes; Cirebon themes like the mouse deer’s pleasure garden which has the typical rock formation motif of the Sultan’s pleasure gardens at Sunyargai are reminiscent of Cirebon’s signature Megamendung cloud motif. Although Ibu Inez is herself a devout Muslim nevertheless as a supporter of Indonesia’s Unity in Diversity motto she has produced kebayas and sarong with Christmas trees and Santa Claus. Her kebayas for Jawa Hokokai batiks are intricate designs filled with the delicate butterflies and cherry blossoms close to the Japanese heart.

Inez Mardiana’s beautiful collection of kebayas and batiks are now on display at the Textile Museum. The costumes were modelled at a fashion show by Jakarta’s high society ladies including the lovely Kartini Basuki and Nina Akbar Tanjung. The show was said to resemble a swirling movement of delicate, multi-hued clothing fit for the most discerning of butterflies.

Then exhibition of Inez Mardiana’s kebayas and batiks at the Textile Museum is open to the public until the 4th of February 2018. (Tamalia Alisjahbana)

Sekolah Master Indonesia: A Free School for the Marginalized

Sekolah Master Indonesia. (photo: IO/Yoga Agusta)

IO – Sekolah Master Indonesia is where marginalized citizens can get a free education. It was established by Nurrohim in Depok in the early 2000’s. With the help of local teens and student activists, he initiated the concept of alternative education for the marginalized. His concern was for Indonesian children who drop out of school because of poverty and other causes, as well as his sharpened empathy from his own years living on the streets; this inspired him to vow to do what he could to lift them out of their unfortunate condition. He came up with the idea of opening a school for anyone who wants an education, especially the people at the margins: street hawkers, buskers, and scavengers.

The educational model of Sekolah Master Indonesia is different from that of other private schools. Nurrohim and his friends create school programs according to need. The curriculum is chosen by voting: programs with a majority of votes will be prioritized.  Sekolah Master accepts volunteers who act as companions, motivators, and inspirers to their students, to help them manifest their potential. ‘Each of us possesses a different kind of intelligence. Well, we try to optimize these advantages – to launch them, to mature them, and to group them together,’ he explained.

These marginalized children are imbued with the main values of life. ‘At least they feel comfortable with kindness, understanding that being good feels right: nobody will treat you with suspicion. You can remain on the streets, but you have to act civilized, you have to be ethical. If you want to busk, if you want to scavenge, don’t do it while drunk and don’t carry sharp weapons. The thing is to teach them that they still have feelings – that even though they’re poor, they still have feelings, they can still care for others. They can still help people even if they don’t have any money – like helping people cross the road or carry heavy packages,’ he said.

As the founder of Sekolah Master, Nurrohim prioritizes a balance of character and skills training. ‘So even though they may be poor, they are also healthy and smart, and of course, productive and empowered. They have powerful skills, so when they go into the world of work, they already have a diploma, they have good manners and morals, they can compete with others. If they want to go into business for themselves, we prepare them for it, so they feel empowered. With education, we hope to break the chain of poverty and hopelessness. This is our aspiration,’ he said.

Sekolah Master’s overarching program is ‘one family, one college graduate’. ‘Education will raise both your personal dignity and your family’s position. If you’re educated, you’re no longer viewed as a “lowlife”. Your mother may be a washerwoman, but there will be more respect if at least one of her children is a college graduate. We want to turn marginal people into masters of their own destiny. We hope to eliminate poverty, hopelessness, and underdevelopment through education,’ he concluded.

(Chester Allen)


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