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A Devastating Risk of Miscalculation

Irawan Ronodipuro

IO, – Of all the questions Asia faces today, the preeminent one is how to avert conflict on the Korean Peninsula.  Certainly the risk seems high:  After a turbulent 2017 with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un intensifying his nuclear and missile tests and launching an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting targets on the continental United States, an ugly exchange of insults and threats between U.S. President Donald Trump and Kim, and the imposition of stringent economic sanctions against North Korea, tensions have reached levels that make it seem both countries are stumbling along the path toward war.

Even before he entered the White House, Trump knew North Korea would pose a major challenge for his new administration.  When Barack Obama gave Trump a briefing on foreign policy during the transition, he warned Trump about Kim and his ambitions to become a nuclear power.  Shortly thereafter, Trump supposedly remarked to one of his close aides, “I will be judged by how I handle this.”

That Trump would face off with Kim in such a caustic manner is, in retrospect, not surprising.  Long before becoming the forty-fifth president of the United States, Donald Trump was already infamous for his combative personality and penchant for using derogatory remarks when facing down his opponents in business.  During the presidential campaign of 2016, when he entered the world of politics for the first time, one might have hoped for a more statesmanlike approach.  But as Senator Marco Rubio was to learn when Trump awarded him the moniker of “Little Marco” during the Republican Party presidential debates, Trump will always remain Trump.

Now little more than year into the Trump presidency, the implications of having a non-conventional and confrontational figure in the Oval Office—who, his critics argue, is extraordinarily disruptive—are devastatingly clear.

It is not just simply a matter of having, as the White House recently admitted, a ‘politically incorrect’ president. When it comes to Washington’s allies and adversaries abroad, Trump’s abrupt and harsh style, besides being disruptive, also carries dangerous consequences.

Words can matter for a lot.  This is especially true with Trump’s invectives directed against Kim, or “Little Rocket Man” as he is often called in Trump’s tweets.  In his standoff with Kim, one is uncomfortably reminded of a Hollywood-style celebrity feud.  Only in this case, the two parties in a war of words also happen to be nuclear-armed states that could inadvertently end up in a war with potentially horrific consequences.

But it is not just a verbal barrage that has caused the current heightened state of tensions.  Besides Trump’s tough talk, his administration has led the drafting of UN Security Council resolutions that have imposed increasingly tougher economic sanctions on North Korea.  If the sanctions hold and smuggling can be kept at bay—a big ‘if’ for sure—then they will pose an existential threat to the Kim regime.

Relying primarily upon China and, to a lesser extent Russia, for enforcing the sanctions, Washington’s foreign policy establishment believes this is the best means to force Kim into agreeing to surrender his nuclear weapons program and, eventually, full-scale denuclearization.  But according to North Korea experts, Kim’s main motive for possessing nuclear weapons is not offensive. Rather, it is to deter the United States from invading his country.  After what happened to Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi and Iraq’s Saddam Hussein after abandoning their weapons programs, one could hardly blame Kim for thinking a nuclear weapons program is the best option for ensuring his regime’s survival.

Given the current standoff between Washington and Pyongyang, it would be naïve to believe North and South Korea’s coming together recently to discuss the former’s participation in the upcoming Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang necessarily signals a positive development.  As long as the Trump administration insists on denuclearization and Kim persists in believing nuclear weapons are the only way to deter the United States from invading his country, there is no room for compromise and a diplomatic solution.

To be fair, the current crisis is not entirely of Trump’s making.   Three previous U.S. presidents—Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama—tried their hands at using economic sanctions through the U.N. Security Council to convince Pyongyang into rolling back its nuclear and missile programs.  But with South Korea continuing to subsidize Pyongyang, China violating the sanctions with impunity even after it voted in favor of them in the U.N. Security Council and Washington switching its strategy several times over from one of sanctions to using inducements, the Kim dynasty effectively bought itself enough time over the decades to develop the weapons and missiles it never intended to surrender.  In a word, the proverbial train has left the station.

Where all of this leads us is unknown.  Which is precisely why there is so much angst, not only on the Korean Peninsula and Washington, but also throughout Northeast Asia and beyond.  Much like members of the Trump cabinet and the U.S. Congress, Pyongyang is confused about Trump’s real intentions.  Is his tweet that “military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely” merely a bluff?  Kim and his advisors don’t know.  Similarly, Washington can only speculate about the thoughts lurking inside the minds of Kim and his advisors.  Such imperfect information can easily lead to a serious miscalculation by either or both sides.  And therein lies the danger.

(Irawan Ronodipuro)



Quo vadis, Indonesian education system

(illustration: IO/Rudraksha)

IO, Jakarta – Education is the key to create quality human skills and competitiveness. Unfortunately, the world of education in Indonesia in recent years has experienced various setbacks. Data released by the Indonesian Education Monitoring Network (JPPI) in 2017 shows the quality of education in Indonesia is still below Ehtiopia and the Philippines.

Not only that, based on data from the Global Human Capital Report 2017 published by World Economic Forum (WEF), Indonesia’s ranking in education is ranked 53rd in the world, far behind Vietnam which ranks 8th in the world.

Finland is known for being world number one in Education. The country is successful in building its education system. The country scored 70% compared to the world average quality standard of only 21%. Finland provides free education for its citizens, even up to graduate level. Almost all schools in Finland are schools that are financed from taxes and have public school status. This makes no significant difference between schools, both in terms of facilities and quality. Whereas the education budget is less than 20 percent of the state budget.

Indonesia’s education is left behind compared to other countries, this becomes a special concern for Unifah Rosidi, Chairman of Indonesian Teachers Association (PGRI). She said the Indonesian education system was well prepared. Unfortunately, there are inconsistencies between systems and implementation practices. “The system is good, but there are problems of policy, regulation and implementation,” said Unifah.

Meanwhile, according to Darmaningtyas, Educational observer, that Indonesian education is lagging behind, because our education policy towards political dimension is more prominent than the education dimension itself. “Within the transition period, particularly post-reformation, the post for Minister of Education is somehow claimed by Muhamadiyah. So if policy management is based on this tradition than there will be no improvement.

Other facts revealed by Darmaningtyas, generally countries that teach religious education in schools are not progressing. Two examples of countries namely Indonesia and the Philippines. “In ASEAN countries only Indonesia and the Philippines are implementing religious education. Even Indonesia in the 2013 curriculum adds religious teaching hours. Elementary school (SD) is 2 to 4 hours of lessons. Junior high (SMP), Senior high (SMA), Vocational school (SMK), is from 2 hours to 3 hours. That is not to mention other religious activities. In other countries there is no religious education, instead they teach logic, ethics, literature, art, mathematics. So it’s natural that they progress. Seeing this, I think it’s better not to compare. Because we have our own choice of education itself, “he explained.

Various challenges
Another view was delivered by Sutan Adil Hendra, Chairman of Commission X of the House of Representatives, he highlighted the target of the national education budget is not focused. Regulation support for 20 percent of the national education budget is actually something that is rather vague. This can be seen in the educational budget posture in APBN 2018 has been allocated amounting to Rp 444.131 trillion. The budget through central government expenditure amounting to Rp 149.680 trillion spread across 20 ministries / institutions (K / L) is Rp145.957 trillion. While the remaining Rp3, 72 trillion is entered in various institutions and commissions.

Of the 20 ministries and institutions performing the educational function, the Ministry of Religious Affairs received the largest allocation of Rp 52.681 trillion, followed by the Ministry of Research, Technology and Higher Education (Kemenristekdikti) of Rp 41.284 trillion (Education Function Budget of 40.393 T and Budget Function Ristek of 890 M), and the Ministry of Education and Culture (Kemdikbud) alone only gets a budget of Rp 40.092 trillion.

The proportion of education budget allocated for primary and secondary education tends to decrease and stagnate, seen from the budget posture of the last 3 years the Ministry of Education and Culture (Kemendikbud) continues to decline from budget period 2015-2016 amounting to Rp 49.23 T, in the period 2016-2017 decreased to Rp 39.82 T, and now 2017-2018 has increased to 40.092 T but not as big as the period 2015-2016. The rest is spread across 17 ministries and institutions from the smallest of the Ministry of Communication and Informatics (Kemenkominfo) Rp 51,614 billion, National Nuclear Energy Agency (BTNN) Rp 52,800 billion, Ministry of Environment and Forestry (KLH) Rp 99.2297 billion, Ministry of ESDM Rp 109.756 billion, The Ministry of Cooperatives and SMEs Rp 115 billion, Ministry of Defense Rp 173,400 billion, and the Ministry of Village,Development of Disadvantage Regions and Transmigration (PDT) Rp 178,500 billion.

“The vagueness of the allocation of this education budget creates various disparities such as the gap between quality of education that is not in line with the funds allocated by the government,” said Sutan.

Although the funds raised by the government are quite large, it does not have a significant impact on the quality of education in Indonesia. This is because 50% of the education budget is used to pay teachers and lecturers salaries. “If the cumulative, if we count with the first, the budget is actually down. Before 2007, 20% did not include salary. So teachers and lecturers’ salaries are included in the Routine Post. But since the 2007 Mahkamah Constitution’s (Constitutional Court) decision, that 20% budget includes salary, “said Darmaningtyas.

In addition to budgetary issues, education also talks about facilities and infrastructure. Inadequate school buildings are one of the causes of the low quality of Indonesian education. Unfortunately, this has not been the focus of the government other than improving the curriculum and certification of teachers.

Sutan explained that the condition of infrastructure facilities at elementary and secondary education level shows a worrisome condition. From 1,833,323 classrooms only about 25 percent or as many as 466,180 are in good condition, while 75 percent or 1,367,143 school spaces are in damaged condition.

Therefore, Sutan suggested that the government needs to formulate policies to overcome the problems of infrastructure facilities, mainly on learning media, laboratory equipment, ICT, lack of RKB, places of worship, textbooks for underprivileged students, and easier access to schools.

Not only do the facilities and infrastructure need attention, Unifah also highlights the lack of teachers at all levels of education. “These 10 years there has been no recruitment of teachers. We play around with the data. Always assuming that the number of teachers are less. Currently private honorary teachers are more in numbers than civil servant teachers. And now many teachers (civil servant) are entering retirement, “said Unifah.

There are currently 55 million students, the required teacher needs of 3 million. The current number of civil servant teachers is 1,483,265. Then there are 814,677 honorary teachers. While private teachers number as many as 719,354. “ 60% of that total has been certified.“ said Unifah.

These teachers are asked to improve their skills, unfortunately training must be self-financed. “Whereas Malaysia makes the rules of training 60 -100 hours per individual person. They also provide funds. Well, we have no training rules at all. Since there is no teacher mapping, it also analyzes teacher needs. Nobody wants to take responsibility. The sad fact is that honorary teachers are only paid Rp 108 thousand per 3 months, ” he said.

In 2016, Indonesia still lacks 282,224 teachers of civil servant class . Whereas in the year 2017 the shortage of teachers reached 988,133. “The study conducted in the last 18 months found that the needs of new class teachers in elementary, junior high / vocational schools will increase over time, such as teachers who retire, the fewer new teachers going into the system, and the number of students in schools is increasing,” explained Sutan.

Another problem about education seen by Sutan is the drop out rate from junior high school to senior high school has increased. This is triggered by the rise of illegal levies in MA / SMK / SMA level. Many districts have previously exhausted high school / vocational high schools, but now they are restless because many provinces allow schools to charge tuition fees to cover the budget shortage for education.

Sutan continued, going to school for the marginal is still a dream. This is particularly experienced by the poor and children with special needs. The dropout rate is dominated by both groups. BOS, BSM, and KIP programs need to be evaluated because in reality there are still many poor children who find it difficult to attend school. Slow distribution, inaccurate allocations, and misappropriation of funds remain a part of the implementation of the program.

While Darmaningtyas sees Indonesia too broad a spectrum, so in curriculum development, it should not be uniform but diverse. “The curriculum should be created per category. For example, isolated areas and coastal areas develop their own curriculum, the agricultural area is also so. The national curriculum focuses on mathematics, science, Indonesian, English, PPKN, history can be national history and local history, “he explained.

He thinks one of the key factors to our Education failure is due to the perspectives of Java and Jakarta which never change. For example, computer based exam policy even though there are 13 thousand villages that have no electricity installed. “The policymakers don’t consider that” he said.

In order for our education to go forward, Darmaningtyas offers to address the quality gap between Java and outside Java. “One of them is infrastructure. Infrastructure is concerned with transportation, electricity and communications. These three are necessities. President Jokowi in his leadership should be able to solve these three problems. If this is settled, the gap can reduce, “he explained.

Unifah said Education will progress if priority and consistent programs are implemented. “Do not feel this education belongs to the ministry alone. Then the teacher becomes the main asset because there is research saying, no quality of education exceeds the quality of the teacher. Because the curriculum will be driven by the teacher. Students will meet teachers. Therefore, teachers must be of the highest calibre” said Unifah.

While Sutan criticized the Government of President Jokowi in dealing with various problems of Education. According to him, the liberalisation of education to market mechanisms that resulted in the education sector being controlled by the capitalist and thus open to brainwashing in order to adapt neoliberal thinking. Now education becomes a business event to make a profit only. The government does not intervene in order to control the business of education so as to create justice for all people to gain equal rights in achieving a decent and quality education. And, the cost of education is increasingly expensive ranging from early childhood education, Elementary School to University. There is a very high level of educational inflation and is not affordable by the lower layers of society.

With the variety of educational issues we face, it takes strong political will from the Government. Will the tangled threads of education be left unchecked? Or is the Government able to make a breakthrough, so that Education can grow and advance parallel to the nations of the world. We must do it now, for the future of the nation’s children.

(Dessy Aipipidely)

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UNESCO world heritage status for Jakarta Old Town?

Collapsed roof of Godown C. (photo: IO/Tamalia Alisjahbana)

IO – This is the second disaster to hit the Jakarta Old Town historic area this month. The first was the collapse of a 19th century Chinese building in Junior High 32 earlier in the month. On Tuesday the 16th of January 2017 Godown C of the Maritime Museum caught fire. It then spread to Godown B. The fire began at 9 am and lasted nearly 4 hours. Unfortunately, the fire brigade took nearly half an hour to reach the site resulting in half of warehouse C and a small section of Godown B burning down. That means one fifth of the Maritime Museum went up in flames.

Hunisan Nzar, the director of the museum said, “One of my staff saw some of the electrical wires melt and catch fire so we suspect that the cause of the fire was  electrical but we must wait for the official police report before we can be certain of the cause.”

This is not the first disaster at the Maritime Museum. Some years ago the roof of Godown B completely collapsed due to termite infestation. Meanwhile the electrical wiring at the museum has long been a mess. “Last year the buildings was restored and the electrical wiring was due for renewal in this years budget,” explained Hunisan.

The buildings in the Maritime Museum were the former spice warehouses of the United Dutch East India Company (VOC) and the oldest was built in 1652. The front of the museum is a remnant of the old north-west city wall that the VOC built as part of the city’s defense. A guard house is still visible along the wall which was finished in 1645 by the renown Chinese contractor Jan Kon. The godowns in the Maritime Museum were filled with spices, silks, tea and coffee intended for Europe and Asia and ships could get right next to the city wall in front of the museum for loading. Later the harbor silted up, especially after the eruption of the Salak Mountain in 1699 when lava, large stones and ash were spewed into the Ciliwung River which carried these to the harbor causing the harbor to become too shallow for big ships.

In a town built by merchants specifically for trade the godowns were the most important buildings in the Old Town. It was in the Old Town that the specifications and measurements for godowns all over the world where the VOC had posts were determined. In recent years, measurements for a replica godown in Deishima were taken from these warehouses in the Old Town of Jakarta.

The loss of the structures holding up the godowns which consist of enormous ancient teak beams is a heritage tragedy. Replacing them alone will be extremely expensive. Nevertheless, the Deputy Governor of Jakarta, Sandiago Uno in reference to both the recently collapsed 19th century Chinese building at Junior High 32 and the fire damage to Godown C and a section of Godown B stated unequivocally, “We will restore everything in accordance with good restoration principles. We will do whatever it takes to obtain UNESCO world heritage status for the Old Town area of Jakarta!” He added the proviso that all actions must be legal, of course.

President Joko Widodo through the Ministry of Tourism has designated ten sites in Indonesia as national tourism sites that will be receiving special attention from the government and which are expected to earn precious tourism income for the country. The Old Town area with its four outlying islands of Onrust, Kelor, Cipir and Bidadari and the historic protected areas of Pekojan, Pecinan and Luar Batang are one of those designated sites and the Jakarta regional government seems determined to achieve this, starting with UNESCO world heritage status for the Old Town and its four islands. The Deputy Governor’s statement indicates a major breakthrough for conservationist. It is the first time that the regional government has so forcefully declared its full commitment behind obtaining world heritage status for the Old Town and four islands.

“That will require a first-class architect with a back ground in heritage restoration and practical experience in the field to restore the Maritime Museum, “declared Prof. Mundarjito who heads the Regional Team of Heritage Experts. The professor who is in his 80s was standing at the scene with his cane surveying the remnants of the fire. “We should be willing to receive foreign expertise as we did during the restoration of Gedung Arsip. Our architects do not have a lot of experience in this field and this should be an opportunity for Indonesian architects to learn by working together with them.

“We will require old wood to replace the original teak beams that burnt down and for the Chinese building that collapsed at Junior High, 32” cried Ms Nelita, head of the Jakarta government’s regional conservation office, enthusiastically, “I shall be contacting the Ministry of Public Works and the Secretary of State about receiving some of the old wooden benches that were removed from the stadium during renovations for the Asian Games – but for the Maritime Museum we may have to buy old teak.”

At Rp 400 million per cubic meter this will not be cheap for the city. Tinia Budiarti, the city administration’s head of Tourism and Cultural Services had spent the day before and part of the night at the Maritime Museum. This morning she had returned to check on the situation and discovered several hotspots in the old timber from which wisps of smoke were still emerging. She had just called the fire brigade to return again to deal with the smoldering wood. Hearing Ms Nelita’s comment the exhausted civil servant immediately began planning for a public fund-raising event. “The Dutch Embassy has indicated that they may help us with expertise, she added. “You know I feel that there really is a will now to truly conserve the Old Town and that it’s not all just mixed up with business ventures,” she declared happily.

“If you buy old wood make sure it is legally obtained wood” warned Bambang Eryudhawan, head of the Project Review Board for heritage buildings. “In fact, perhaps in the long term the buildings should not function as the maritime museum because the space is not large enough and so many things cannot be done because it is a conservation building. Also, the director has his hand’s full looking after a heritage building without also having to run a maritime museum,” suggested Bambang enthusiastically.

The regional government’s stance has markedly raised the enthusiasm and hopes of government civil servants many of whom have toiled under various governors none of whom ever fully committed to genuine protection of the city’s heritage buildings. Now it is up to the governor and deputy governor to keep that promise and continue to support the enthusiasm of their staff in fulfilling the heritage commitment not just to the Old Town area of Jakarta but to all of Jakarta.
(Tamalia Alisjahbana)

Contemporary art ‘Dua Kutub’ brings the energy of peace and compassion

Painting ‘Masdibyo Aku Kapok !! (Menangkap Koruptor) ‘, series of paintings’ ‘Koruptor Dibuang ke Laut Diadili Ikan Laut Dalam’. (photo: IO/Aldo)

IO, Jakarta – Talking about contemporary art painting in the modern era as now is not a new thing anymore in the world of art. Recently, two artists, Masdibyo and Gigih Wiyono, held an art exhibition entitled ‘Dua Kutub’ located in Galeri Nasional Indonesia. The event starts from January 10 to January 21, 2018. Kutub (poles) have a literal meaning as the end of the axis or the axis of the earth, the tip of the magnetic rod that has tensile (magnetic) properties.

The Dua Kutub (Two Poles) are thought to depart from two artistic forces (painters) who have different characters, Masdibyo who was born on the southern coast of Pacitan and grew up on the north coast of Tuban, which is close to the culture of fishermen, while Gigih Wiyono was born in the interior of Central Java, South part Sukoharjo exactly, which grows and thicks with the world of agriculture. The traditions and environments of both artists influence in the process of creation and their work.

“The Dua Kutub are present to carry the message of the power of love and we are trying to bring a spirit that brings the energy of peace and compassion. It is bout fellow human beings with nature and people with God, “said Gigih when met at the National Gallery of Indonesia.

In the various paintings contained in the event entitled ‘Two Poles’, Gigih explain the contents of the paintings that exist in the exhibition is questioning the events that exist in the community, especially the destruction of the environment and the natural surroundings.

“The destruction of the nation’s child mentality with the many cases of corruption, nepotism also causes the destruction of nature that destroys the forest habitat causing natural disasters everywhere,” said Gigih.

The paintings of Gigih’s work, in the Dua Kutub exhibition, discuss about the blessings of life, motherhood and the symbols of life. At least there are 23 paintings which he is exhibiting in this art event. In addition to painting, Gigih is also showcasing the work of nine statues of his work in the exhibition.

Meanwhile, Masdibyo is also showcasing his work relating to the tradition of society, by presenting 30 paintings. Some paintings take the title of Berdoa di Tengah Teror Jakarta (Praying in the Terror of Central Jakarta), the bombing case that happened Sarinah some time ago.

The uniqueness of the works they create is very different and worthy of being studied conceptually as well as visually. Differences in the background of the study and the creation process make the Dua Kutub have important meaning to be presented in the exhibition together to reveal the spirit they lift in the work.

“Our presence stems from the power of the heart that wants to sow the seed of love in the hope of becoming a collective consciousness of society in viewing the heterogeneous side of life. Starting the existence of human civilization on earth, art and culture have proven to unite various perceptions, so the difference is a grace to be grateful with mutual respect. So we agree to present together with the strength and creativity of the different, but each other to spread positive energy, “said the artists explaining the purpose of their art exhibition.

The essence of this ‘Dua Kutub’ exhibition is the unification of creative results of two national artists with different backgrounds, both socio-cultural and creative explorations. Their hope in this exhibition is to be an appreciative tool for art lovers, and to be an artistic illumination oasis amid the noisy life that tends to materialistic pragmatism.

There is only one red thread why these two artists produce the art exhibition which was held in the National Gallery of Indonesia, that is the criticism of social and political issues that occurred in Indonesia. His anxiety about all the problems that occurred in Indonesia made both artists create some of the paintings on display. For example, the painting ‘Masdibyo Aku Kapok !! (Menangkap Koruptor), the Corruptors’ painting series was dumped into the Sea of ​​the Deep Sea Fish’ which contains images of KPK detainees wearing orange vests bitten by fish, the series’ Malima ‘, and others.

Tubagus Andre Sukmana, as the Head of the National Gallery of Indonesia also conveyed his enthusiasm in the exhibition ‘Dua Kutub’. Andre sees that the ‘Two Poles’ of different flavors into a single visualization is something that is interesting to see by audiences.

Not only mutually reinforcing, it is very likely ‘Dua Kutub’ is to create new perspectives and inspiration. “Both artists translate the union, there because of the power of friendship that brings the energy of peace and compassion. The idea is full of socio-cultural values, and also the latest political issues that mainly offend the diversity and unity of the Indonesian nation, “he said.

This is a testament to the critical attitude of both artists, which also implies social concern, as well as their love for the nation and country expressed through visual language. With the current polemic of the nation, these two artists are hoping for a message of peace and human behavior patterns that must be changed, so that nature and social life run in harmony and continuity without any issues that divide Indonesia’s great diversity. (Aldo)

Enjoying fusion sushi dishes in the heart of South Jakarta

Salmon Melt is a favourite sushi dish in the Yellowfin menu. (photo: IO/Aldo)

IO, Jakarta – Thinking of enjoying dishes from the ‘Land of Cherry Blossoms’ on the weekend? In Senopati, South Jakarta, is a Japanese restaurant whose menu specializes in ‘fusion sushi’.

Yellowfin has been serving and entertaining guests since it was established in 2011. Its mission is to serve high-quality food and beverages to all customers, at an affordable price, using fresh ingredients to create a Japanese-style menu that is suitable for the Indonesian palate.

Even after 7 years in business, and its position as one of the first Japanese eateries established in the Senopati area, Yellowfin does not feel complacent at the top. In 2016 Yellowfin changed its management team, and totally redesigned its entirety as a restaurant, keeping only part of their old menu. They ended up creating a new ‘fusion’ menu, adjusted to satisfy its new market segment. Even though it focuses on fusion sushi, Yellowfin has not abandoned the authentic Japanese sushi menu.

‘We changed our dishes, design, and even our service standard, but without losing our original distinctly Japanese sushi menu,’ Sabam, the owner of Yellowfin, proudly revealed. At its establishment, Yellowfin followed the fusion sushi trend set in the United States. However, after moving to a new management, Yellowfin now focuses on the fusion sushi popular in Indonesia, by using spices more suitable for the Indonesian palate.

‘We started to use mayonnaise, specifically spicy mayonnaise – we even have some items on the menu that use green chillies as a main ingredient,’ he said. An interesting thing about Yellowfin is its fusion sushi menu, their specialty of the sushi dishes they serve.

Yellowfin’s owner said that the restaurant was established in the Senopati area because it was already crowded with restaurants with Korean menus. He felt himself at an advantage, because his research showed that Senopati at that time did not have any restaurants that specifically served Japanese food.  As a pioneer of Japanese restaurants in the Senopati area, South Jakarta, Yellowfin pays great attention to each item that they serve on the menu, as well as constructing a comfortable interior design for all guests.

Apart from serving sushi dishes, Yellowfin also has other varieties on its menu for guests to choose from. Yakitori, ramen, even wagyu beef are among the options available to guests. The variety is not just limited to foods: beverages include sake, wine, and other alcoholic beverages, all available at Yellowfin.

As a family restaurant, Yellowfin is quite serious about maintaining good relations with its customers. ‘With our solid team, we customarily maintain our relation with each customer by sending direct messages to them, updating them on new items on the Yellowfin menu; we also update all social media accounts with ongoing promos or events at Yellowfin,’ Sabam said. On weekends, Yellowfin provides live shows to entertain customers. On Mondays and Thursdays, there are live music shows.

With a maximum capacity of 103 daily, Yellowfin is ready to provide comfort and safety to all visitors. ‘We have 3 special dining halls of different capacities each – one can seat 10 people, the second can seat 16, and the smallest can seat a maximum of 6 people.’

Salmon meunière is another favourite on the menu offered Yellowfin. This simple and elegant dish combines Western and Japanese ingredients in the best fusion Yellowfin can offer. The word ‘meunière’, literally meaning ‘the miller’s wife’, refers to a special technique and sauce, i.e. first dredging it in flour, then cooking it and/or serving it in lightly browned butter with lemon juice and parsley.

To complement your weekend, Yellowfin is one of the best restaurants that you must try. Sushi variants are different from those in other Japanese restaurants. The restaurant opens from 11.00 ~ 12.00 on Mondays to Thursdays, closing at 02.00 on weekends. (Aldo)

The Dutch Colonial legacy of stories – and good coffee

The atmosphere of a homie place gives its own comfort for every visitor who is interacting with relatives while enjoying the warmth of coffee cups. (photo: IO/Aldo)

IO, Jakarta – The legacy of the Dutch colonial history is still very much visible throughout Indonesia: historical buildings still dot the land, and the culinary delights of the Windmill Nation are widely available throughout the capital city of Jakarta. Let’s take the example of a coffee shop in Bendungan Hilir, Central Jakarta. Under the name “Goedkoop Coffee,” this coffee shop takes “old-fashioned Dutch coffee house” as its theme. “Goedkoop” is Dutch for “good value” and “thrift”.

“The idea behind Goedkoop is very simple, actually: we want to promote coffee culture at an affordable price, so everyone can enjoy it,” said one of the owners. “With the development of coffee culture in Jakarta, we want to be one of the institutions that support this enthusiasm.” “We want to spread the word to the public that “coffee culture” is not synonymous with “spendthrift”. We have the principle that everyone deserves good coffee in a comfortable ambience. The culture we decided to promote in the coffee shop is the Dutch colonial culture.”

Goedkoop Coffee not only serves Dutch-style coffee, but also prominently Colonial Dutch dishes such as pannekoek and bitterballen. The attractive ambience is a mixture of the modern and the antique – part of the interior is Dutch, such as the brown upright piano by the entrance, and other parts contain unashamedly Indonesian wood carvings. With its homey and quaint Dutch ambience, you won’t go wrong when you enjoy your cup of coffee with the Dutch snacks served here. From its opening day in 2013 in Bendungan Hilir until now, Goedkoop is always crowded with guests – especially in the afternoons and weekends.

A recommended Dutch-style coffee in the menu is Koffie Verkeerd, which is milk coffee with cinnamon. It is brewed with double shot espresso of a mix of Bali dan Toraja Arabica coffee. A snack that you definitely should try is the bitterballen, a savoury goodness coated in bread crumbs and fried to a lovely golden brown. Its accompanying sauce reminds you of the Joppie sauce of Holland, with its sour mustardy taste and creamy texture. The traces of curry characteristic to the Joppie sauce in the bitterballen sauce of Goedkoop is just right to offset the savouriness of the bitterballen.

The Half & Half Pannekoek or pancake is a favourite item on the Goedkoop menu. The pancake is divided into two halves – one half sprinkled with rice crispies, almond slices, and caramel sauce, while the other half is poured with chocolate sauce and topped with wafer. Another, deceptively simpler variation of the pannekoek is sprinkled with powdered sugar.

You deserve to enjoy the unique dishes and beverages in the Goedkoop Coffee menu on your lovely weekend. Goedkoop Coffee is one of the best little coffee shops – its Dutch menu is a good reference for new taste that you can enjoy.

The coffee shop opens from 10.00 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Tuesdays to Thursdays, from 10.00 a.m. to 11.00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. On Sundays, Goedkoop Coffee opens up and closes earlier at 07.00 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Aldo)

Café Batavia, a landmark packed with stories

Cafe Batavia, used to be the former of VOC administrative office building, is maintaining the original Dutch colonial decoration. (photo: IO/Aldo)

IO – Fatahillah Square, also known as ‘Old Town’ of Jakarta (still called ‘Batavia’), was the starting point for the colonial government.  The elegant ancient piles naturally hide many stories in each stone, earning them a place as a cultural preserve of our past Dutch East Indies Colonial Era.

Fatahillah Square, previously known as Stadhuisplein (‘City Hall Square’), is a public plaza located in the very heart of Jakarta’s Old Town. In this area, several venerable old buildings still stand, such as the former City Hall of Jakarta (now the Fatahillah Museum), the Wayang Museum, the Central Post Office, and the former Batavia High Court building (now the Museum of Arts and Ceramics).

Other than the many museums in the area, another attention-grabber is the restaurant directly facing the Museum of Jakarta’s History: Café Batavia. The Café, open since 1991, is housed in a historic building formerly used as a VOC administrative office, following its completion in 1850.

In 1990, Frenchman Paul Hassan leased the building, intending to turn it into an art gallery. A year later, the lease was transfered to Graham James of Australia, to turn into what quickly became famed as Café Batavia. It opened to the public in 1993.

Café Batavia has a uniquely classic interior. The vintage atmosphere takes visitors back to the Colonial past, exemplified by the magnificent portraits of VOC high officials staring from the walls. The café, which is commonly crowded during dinner hours, is comprised of two floors, each with its deliciously distinct ambience.

Café Batavia’s ground floor is a lounge bar with a stage for live music, featured from Tuesday to Saturday, beguiling diners with musical genres as varied as jazz, pop, and Latin.  The upper floor contains the Grand Salon, the main hall dining area that can seat about 150 visitors and is frequently used for festive events such as weddings, or formal ones like conventions and meetings.  Café Batavia’s upper floor also contains the world-famous Winston Churchill bar, which earned an award as ‘The World’s Best Bar’ from Newsweek International Magazine, New York, in 1996.

Through its immense glass windows, guests can enjoy a quaint view of Fatahillah Square, the crowds of visitors at the Wayang Museum, the street hawkers selling everything from drinks to post cards, and tourists rolling by on their sepeda onthel (Dutch bicycles). ‘This restaurant has a very good concept: a mixture of class and elegance. It has great food and exotic ambience,’ comments a visitor.

Café Batavia serves a variety of Western and Chinese dishes, and a comprehensive selection of the best Australian wines. ‘Some of the dishes in our menu can be found in other restaurants in Jakarta, but most of the guests who come here to Café Batavia want to enjoy a unique ambience that they cannot find in other restaurants,’ commented the Marketing and Communications Representative of Café Batavia.

This café brings visitors a sense of nostalgia of tempo doeloe (olden days). The soft flow of music, the quaint décor, and the portraits of Colonial Era officials and staff of VOC make the distant past feel much closer to the present. (Aldo)

Visit the vivid history and evolution of art at the National Gallery

Enthusiastic art lovers crowd the Indonesian National Gallery, snapping photos of the artworks and taking selfies, with the paintings as a background. (photo: IO/Aldo)

IO – The colonial occupation of Indonesia by the Dutch and the Japanese indirectly raises interest in arts among the people in those times: painting functioned as a vital medium for citizens people to comment on and critique current social conditions. A number of formal arts education institutions were established, contributing greatly by providing fresh concepts for Indonesian art. Development of the discipline was gradual, starting with the establishment of Universitaire Leergang voor de Opleiding van Tekenleraen or the ‘University Educational Institute for Drafting Teachers’ in 1947, as the ancestor of the Faculty of Arts and Design of the Bandung Institute of Technology. Among its many significant artistic contributions are historic paintings that document the struggle of the people against colonial occupation, properly displayed and lovingly maintained in the Indonesian National Gallery (Galeri Nasional Indonesia – Galnas Indonesia).

The Indonesian National Gallery is a state cultural institution that hosts artistic exhibitions and events, both Indonesian and foreign. It is a government-owned institution under the auspices of the Ministry of Education and Culture. Located in Medan Merdeka Timur, the Indonesian National Gallery building was once used by the Dutch Christian foundation, Carpentier Alting Stitching (CAS), to house the first women’s boarding school in the Dutch Indies, from 1900 to 1955.

The Indonesian Government once suppressed all Dutch colonial activities, thus resulting in the Indonesian National Gallery building to change functions, under the auspices of the Raden Saleh Foundation, even though it remained in operation under the Dutch chapter of the Freemasons, Vijmetselaren Lorge. A total ban on all functions was only executed in 1962 on direct orders from the top: President Sukarno himself ordered the dissolution of the Raden Saleh Foundation and the transfer of all of its possessions in the building to the Ministry of Culture and Education.

This was the turbulent start of the national-level gallery, which was established as the Wisma Seni Nasional (National Arts Hall) or the National Cultural Development Centre. In 1987, the Minister of Culture and Education, Prof. Dr. Fuad Hasan, redesigned the building to serve as the Arts Exhibition Hall of the Department of Culture and Education. The struggle to develop and change the name to the ‘Indonesian National Gallery’ only started with Prof. Edi Sedyawati in 1995, finally securing approval from the Coordinating Minister for the Monitoring of Development and Utilization of State Apparatus in 1998. In its chequered administrative past, the National Gallery was even managed by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism before it reverted to the Ministry of Education and Culture.

The Indonesian National Gallery is home to some of the finest artistic works of both the nation and foreign countries. The general public may enjoy the best collection to be found in Indonesian National Gallery through its permanent exhibition, which has been ongoing since 2015. This exhibition is realized through new concepts that constantly rearrange artworks and space, so that the entirety becomes more informative for and interactive with visitors. Divided into two sections, the Indonesian National Gallery permanent exhibition takes you on a trip across Indonesia’s artistic history: from the initial era of modern art in Indonesia, the Mooi Indie era, Persagi, art guilds, up to the era of contemporary art expression.

The Permanent Exhibition of Indonesian National Gallery collection showcases works from various types of arts: paintings, graphic arts, sculptures, installations, videos, to media arts. In this exhibition, ‘art’ is shown to be more than just sounds and pictorial forms. With its various media on display, art becomes a means for the visitors to know, understand, and love the works of their own national culture. The Indonesian National Gallery Permanent Exhibition exhibits 114 permanent works collected by the State. Most are the works of famed maestros and artists, such as Raden Saleh, Affandi, Basoeki, and others.

A major exhibition that catches the eye is an entire hall showcasing the works of Raden Saleh Sjarif Bustaman. He was known as a multi-talented portraitist, landscape artist, and wildlife painter, as well as an innovator in the history of Indonesian painting. He apprenticed himself to A.A.J. Payen, the famous Belgian painter, travelled the world, and resided in the Netherlands from 1829-1839. He moved to Germany in 1843-1848 and returned to his homeland in Java in 1852, making his home in Bogor until his death in 1880. In this hall, you can see samples of his great works: Storm-tossed Ship (1852), Portrait of Adolphe Jean Phillipe Hubert Desire Bosch 1814-1873 (1867), and a reproduction of his 1856 masterpiece, The Capture of Prince Diponegoro.

Throughout 2017, the Indonesian National Gallery was visited by more than 250,000 art lovers, 9.8% over the number of visitors in 2016, at 230,000.

‘As of 1 December 2017, we recorded 254,403 people passing through the National Gallery, of all ages and backgrounds: artists, critics, art lovers, government officials, scholars, college students, school children, media workers, entrepreneurs, collectors, to ordinary members of the public interested in the arts,’ commented a staff member of the Indonesian National Gallery. The Indonesian National Gallery is open from Tuesday to Sunday (except for national holidays) from 09.00 – 16.00 WIB at Building B, 2nd floor, and admittance is free. (Aldo)

Sailing adventure through Komodo Islands

Padar Island, view from the top. (photo: IO/Nurhidayat Nasution)

IO – Indonesia is well-known for its amazing tourist destinations. Other than Bali, which is beloved by both local and foreign tourists, Komodo Islands are another attraction with undersea charms and a dazzling panorama. For divers, marine tourists, and trekkers, Komodo Islands are the choice to get it all. Part of the Nusa Tenggara Islands, Komodo is also a world-heritage site, selected by UNESCO in 1991.

Life in the small town of Labuan Bajo is not as lively as in, say, Lombok or Bali. The busiest local traffic is only in the port, market, and fish auction. In the daytime, all residents gather in Labuan Bajo briefly to sell their wares, buy household necessities, and work. Labuan Bajo is the economic center; residents may live far away, such as in Komodo Village, and may even take 4 hours to reach the town by motorized boat.


Both local and foreign tourists have recently made Labuan Bajo their destination. According to the Head of the Tourism and Creative Economy Office of the Province of East Nusa Tenggara, Marius Arda Jelamu, up to 82,000 tourists visited Labuan Bajo in 2016, increasing to 122,000 visitors in 2017. It is no surprise that there has been an increase in the number of tourists that arrive year after year. After all, other than its lovely landscape and friendly locals, Labuan Bajo is also famous for its sumptuous seafood dishes.

A visit to Labuan Bajo is incomplete without a sailing trip. Tourists can easily find this service downtown or through social media. The prices offered differ according to the length of the sailing trip, and the type of ship used. A sailing trip takes you on a tour around the islands in the East Nusa Tenggara area. This includes Komodo Island, Padar Island, Rinca Island, Pink Beach, Komodo Village and other attractive spots. The budget for tourists who want to enjoy this trip ranges from Rp 2,500,000.00 to Rp 3,500,000.00/person.

After obtaining their sailing schedules, tourists gather at Labuan Bajo Port in the morning. ‘We usually pick up our tourists in their hotels or homestays straight to the port,’ Rezky, the head of the sailing trip organizers, mentioned. ‘The tours generally leave at 10.00 a.m.,’ he added. We took the 3-day, 2-night package and mixed with other travellers in a boat with a maximum capacity of 10 passengers.

A sailing trip is a different kind of attraction. Other than allowing you to see the beauty of the islands in East Nusa Tenggara, it also allows you to get to know the locals more intimately. For example, in Komodo Village, when a ship arrives at the port, tourists who get off the ship are welcomed with a cheerful vision of local children at play. The village maintains its traditional ambience. homes constructed on the island are built on stilts. ‘Our houses are built this way to prevent Komodo dragons from coming in,’ admitted a resident. Komodo Village used to be a part of the dragon’s habitat, but they are now scarce here because they have moved to other places to avoid the ever-increasing human population.

The dragon look sleepy in Rinca Island. (photo: IO/Nurhidayat Nasution)

Another tourist destination is Padar Island. To enjoy its rocky and hilly contours to the fullest, tourists trek to the top, where they see the natural beauty formed by the mixture of tall hills and green grass. Furthermore, the charms of the white sands and blue water combine to a different type of satisfaction after an exhausting climb. Padar Island is about 3 to 4 hours from Labuan Bajo port. This island used to have Komodo too, but the absence of a food chain interrupted the ecosystem. This extinguished the local Komodo population.

Other than Padar Island, Rinca Island is also a favourite tourist destination. It is part of the Komodo Islands chain, the original habitat of the Komodo. With a population of 1500 Komodo or so, it has the second-biggest dragon population after Komodo Island itself. Across the Rinca Island savannah, we can see not just Komodo, but also buffalo, wild hogs, birds, and snakes.

There are 3 trekking routes to explore the island: short, medium, and long routes. Tourists are free to choose the route they want to take according to their physical condition. Along the trekking route are views of tall hills and wide meadows. Tourists might also be able to see where Komodo lay their eggs, and might also take pictures with the dragon.

Sailing trips around these islands provide a view of the maritime charms of Indonesia, especially the Eastern part. It validates the perception that Indonesia is one of the most appealing maritime countries in the world. (Nurhidayat Nasution)

Saving the Rohingya

Irawan Ronodipuro

IO – In the northeastern corner of Myan­mar, in front of the Bay of Bengal, there is the State of Rakhine. A cres­cent-shaped sliver of land, it is home to the Muslim-minority Rohingya who, for decades, has been subjected to a state-sponsored policy of oppression and grotesque violence.

Living in Myanmar’s Rakhine State since the fifteenth century when Mus­lims first came to the area in what was then known as the Arakan Kingdom, with many more Muslims following when the British Empire brought them in the nineteenth and twentieth centu­ries from Bengal (modern-day Bangla­desh) to work as agricultural workers, the Rohingya have, unlike other ethnic minorities, been denied full citizenship by the Myanmar government. This lack of statehood has enabled the Myanmar government to institutionalize discrim­ination against the Rohingya, which includes draconian restrictions on ed­ucation, marriage, employment and freedom of movement.

Making matters worse, ultranation­alist Buddhists perceive the Rohingya as a threat to their ethnic identity as a majority Buddhist-denominated country, and interviews with Buddhist monks in the international media often display a callous disregard for the Ro­hingya’s basic human rights. Myan­mar’s Buddhists have frequently par­ticipated in acts of violence along with the military directed at the Rohingya. It has been a relentless exercise of eth­nic cleansing, resulting in hundreds of thousands of Rohingya displaced from their homes, scores tortured and bru­tally murdered.

After the latest bloodbath, which erupted last August, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights held interviews with people who fled Myanmar and found refuge in Bangla­desh. In a U.N. flash report issued this past February, there were numerous stories told of mass gang-rape, killings, including of babies and young children, beatings, disappearances and other se­rious human rights violations by the country’s military, the Tatmadaw. And as usual, the Myanmar government either totally dismissed or downplayed what they insist are unfounded accu­sations.

In fact, more than half of the Rohing­ya residing in Rakhine, around 650,00 out of a total population of 1.1million, have fled to Bangladesh since 2017. Myanmar’s military reportedly placed land mines near border crossings with Bangladesh and opened fire on fleeing Rohingya seeking safe haven. There has been harsh condemnation by the international community, and the U.S.A. has responded by applying limited sanctions, but little else has happened in terms of stern and concerted efforts to punish and persuade the Myanmar government to stem the violence.

At the same time, most of the me­dia covering the Rohingya story have forgotten this latest outbreak of ethnic cleansing is part of a wider and longer pattern of human rights abuses. Since the 1970s, the Tatmadaw has carried out a campaign of violence against most of their country’s major ethnic nationali­ties with the exception of the Bama, who make up roughly 60 percent of Myan­mar’s 50 million people.

One well-reported case of wide-scale state violence against ethnic groups involves the Karen. Situated pri­marily in eastern Myan­mar, the Karen were victimized first in the 1980s. In the 1990s alone more than 3,000 Karen villages were destroyed. By 2006, it was estimated 150,000 Karen were living in nine refugee camps inside Thailand. The Shan, another ethnic minority group, fared little better. In the late 1990s, the Shan faced the wrath of the Tatmadaw in full force, resulting in a mass displacement of 300,000 people. Many Shan are still stateless, living in Thailand and along its border with Myanmar. Finally, there is the tragedy of the Kachin starting in 2011, when a nearly two-decades ceasefire between the military and the Kachin Independence Army broke down and more than 100,000 people were displaced.

The Myanmar government has prov­en it is tone-deaf to voices of interna­tional protest and outrage. And despite the stiffer sanctions imposed upon the military junta before Myanmar started down the path of democratization in 2008, there has never been a consensus within its senior ranks that a change in policy could serve the regime’s better interests.

Not helping matters has been the stunning lack of moral leadership shown by Nobel Peace Prize winner and politician Aung San Suu Kyi. As a bea­con of hope for a better Myanmar when she was finally released in 2010 by the military junta from a house arrest that lasted almost two decades and then appointed as her country’s State Coun­sellor in 2016, a position akin to Prime Minister, she has revealed herself as less of a political reformer than most of her admirers expected. In one interview with the ca­ble news channel Al Jazeera, the Lady—as many of her followers call her—ve­hemently denied there was any ethnic cleansing taking place against the Ro­hingya.

Meanwhile, U.N. Human Rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein recently said that the Myanmar government’s policies in Rakhine are a “textbook case of ethnic cleansing” and added its actions are part of a “cynical ploy to forcibly transfer large numbers of people without possi­bility of return.”

This raises the larger question of what, if anything, can be done to bring help to the Rohingya?

If there are any potential brokers for a solution, Myanmar’s largest neigh­bors, namely China and India, can be quickly discounted as a consequence of religious discrimination and conflicts of interest. Both countries have had long-standing tensions with their mi­nority Muslim populations, while at the same time Beijing and New Delhi are actively pursuing massive energy proj­ects in Myanmar. Neither country can be expected to take a leadership role or support any effort to extend help to the Rohingya in a meaningful manner.

ASEAN could potentially serve as a forum, yet with its traditional policy of non-interference this is unlikely. Until now, its response to the Rohingya crisis has been timid at best, with the usual bland platitudes of concern and slaps on the wrist.

Indonesia, the leader of the ASEAN community and also home to the largest Muslim population in the world, could easily and should do more to find a workable and realistic set of policies to alleviate the sufferings of the Rohingya.

So far, Jakarta’s policies toward Ro­hingya refugees and its diplomatic efforts have been somewhat mixed. Previous ef­forts to accommodate Rohingya refugees came to the test in 2015 when boatloads of Rohingya refugees approached Aceh’s shores and the military sent them back to sea. Shortly thereafter, only after in­ternational pressure was applied on the Indonesian government, Jakarta be­came more accommodating and allowed Rohingya boatpeople to enter and remain in Indonesia on a temporary basis.

Recent diplomatic efforts, such as Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Mar­sudi’s Formula 4 +1 proposal to Myan­mar for restoring peace and allowing humanitarian access to Rakhine, and the Indonesian government’s support of the Indonesian Humanitarian Alliance for Myanmar to bring aid to Rohingya refugees are certainly steps in the right direction.

Yet more can be done. Given the Myanmar government’s intransigence on the Rohingya issue and the reluctance of ASEAN countries to move beyond polite and ineffectual roundtable discussions, it remains incumbent upon Indonesia— which possesses the regional status and Muslim credentials—to set an example that can be followed by others.

In particular, the Jokowi adminis­tration should do more to improve its refugee management policies, which could include measures allowing more Rohingya refugees into Indonesia, pro­viding them with better welfare services, access to education and health care, and most importantly granting Rohingya ref­ugees with rights to work. By taking these concrete actions—offering tangible help to the Rohingya who have managed to make the long journey from a place of suffering they have never been able to call home—Indonesia can claim a stron­ger stake in providing moral leadership, both for the region and the Islamic world.




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