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June 30, 2014

Indonesia News Channel June30th. 2014

Jakarta Post Latest News

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The Jakarta Post News Channel
Updated: 31 min 44 sec ago 
June30th. 2014 

JCI up 0.24% at noon

31 min 46 sec ago

The Jakarta Composite Index (JCI) strengthened by 0.24 percent to 4,856.69 by noon on Monday.
The Indonesia Stock Exchange (IDX) data showed that shares in seven out of 10 sectors traded on IDX made improvements during the midday trading session, led by the manufacturing sector with a rise of 0.92 percent.
Shares in finance, telecommunications, consumer goods and basic industry also strengthened as of 12 pm on Monday, as reported by
Stocks in the LQ45 index that helped improve the JCI included PT Bank Rakyat Indonesia, PT Astra International and PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia.
Meanwhile, the index's biggest losers included PT Enseval Putera Megatrading, PT Astra Agro Lestari and PT Indofood Sukses Makmur. (nfo)
Categories: Indonesian News

Filipino, US troops hold drills near disputed sea

31 min 46 sec ago
More than 100 Filipino and U.S. marines in assault amphibious vehicles conducted a mock assault on imaginary enemies in military drills Monday on a beach in northwestern Philippines facing the South China Sea, where Manila is locked in a territorial dispute with China.
The amphibious tanks sailed from a U.S. ship anchored a distance away, then rolled onto the beach of San Antonio, Zambales, northwest of the Philippine capital Manila, disgorging the Filipino and American sailors and marines armed with automatic rifles. The exercise is part of the annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training that the U.S. conducts with its allies in Asia, including the Philippines, to address maritime security, strengthen partnerships and enhance interoperability.
Officials said the maneuvers were not directed at China, which has been criticized for its increasingly assertive behavior in disputed South China Sea territories.
The Philippines, the oldest of Washington's five defense treaty allies in Asia, has turned to the U.S. to modernize its ill-equipped military amid the increasingly tense territorial rifts with China.
"Whenever we do an exercise, we always train to improve our capabilities, it is not meant for whatever threat or situation that are current," said Philippine Navy Commodore Roland Joseph Mercado.
Marine Maj. Damon Torres, commanding officer of the U.S. landing force in the exercise, said the drills were a good opportunity to coordinate and learn about each other's capabilities.
China, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam have overlapping claims in potentially oil- and gas-rich areas in the busy South China Sea, with Beijing laying claim to virtually the entire body of water.
The disputes between Beijing and Manila have worsened since Chinese government ships effectively gained control of the disputed Scarborough Shoal in 2012 then blockaded the Second Thomas Shoal, where Philippine marines have been based on a grounded navy ship since 1999.
Scarborough Shoal lies around 150 kilometers (90 miles) west where Monday's exercise was held. (**)

Categories: Indonesian News

New UN rights probe intensifies pressure on SLanka

31 min 46 sec ago
A new U.N. investigation into allegations of war crimes in Sri Lanka will intensify international pressure on its government and could probe the purported responsibility of senior Sri Lankan officials with U.S. ties.
As many as 40,000 civilians may have died amid government shelling in the final five months of the conflict in 2009, according to a previous U.N. report. Government forces have also been accused of executing ethnic Tamil rebel leaders who tried to surrender.
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay announced Wednesday a heavyweight panel including a Nobel laureate and a former judge on a U.N.-backed tribunal trying former Cambodian leaders for genocide and war crimes, to advise a 10-month investigation by her office. Its goal, laid out in a U.S.-backed resolution, is to establish the facts about alleged abuses by both sides in the conflict, "with a view to avoiding impunity and ensuring accountability."
The government denies its forces targeted civilians or committed serious abuses in defeating the Tamil Tigers' 26-year rebellion for an ethnic homeland.
"We have taken the view that this investigation is utterly uncalled for," said Palitha Kohona, who was Sri Lanka's foreign secretary at the end of the war and now serves as ambassador to the U.N. "It's like this poor third-world country is being punished in an unforgiving manner for having defeated a terrorist group."
But the allegations could prove worrying to the ruling circle of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, notwithstanding his tightened grip on power at home in the five years since the fighting ended.
In particular, one of his brothers, Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, who is a U.S. citizen, has been dogged by allegations that he ordered rebel leaders killed. A recent report by a South African human rights lawyer also examines what Kohona knew of a purported surrender deal and the role of a senior military officer, who now serves as Kohona's deputy at the U.N.
Foreign diplomats say that in the final two days of the war in May 2009, the Tigers' top two political chiefs, Balasingham Nadesan and S. Pulidevan, had expressed a desire to surrender — a message diplomats conveyed to Sri Lankan leaders — but ended up dead. Six months later, victorious army chief Sarath Fonseka told a Sri Lankan newspaper that the defense secretary had ordered the commander of the army's 58th Division, which pressed the final offensive, to kill rebel leaders attempting to surrender. Fonseka, who emerged as an opposition leader after the war, said he was misquoted, but was still sentenced to three years in prison for his comments under harsh emergency laws in a 2011 trial. He was freed in 2012.
Gotabhaya Rajapaksa is a decorated Sri Lankan army officer who migrated to the U.S. in the 1990s and worked in information technology before returning to his homeland in 2005 to support his brother's election as president. Although residing in Sri Lanka, as a U.S. citizen he could potentially face prosecution under a U.S. war crimes statute.
The Department of Justice declined to comment whether it has investigated the possible involvement of U.S. citizens in war crimes in the South Asia nation. The statute, passed in 1996, has yet to be used.
But the Sri Lankan government has in the past complained to Washington about U.S. authorities probing Rajapaksa. A November 2009 diplomatic cable published by Wikileaks reproduces a diplomatic note Sri Lanka sent to the State Department after Fonseka, at the time a U.S. green card holder, was called for interview by the Department of Homeland Security in Oklahoma City during a visit to the U.S. The cable says that Fonseka was told "the intention behind the request for the interview is to use him 'as a source against human rights violations done by Secretary/Defence'."
Fonseka left the country before the scheduled interview, but the U.S. Embassy in Colombo noted in the cable, "the prospect of U.S. officials questioning Fonseka regarding Gotabhaya Rajapaksa's actions during the conflict clearly is of great concern in Colombo and puts the leadership in a tight spot."
It's unclear whether the 10-month U.N. investigation will examine Rajapaksa's actions or those of other individual Sri Lankan leaders. But rights activists are pushing for just that. Abuses by the Tigers, who were internationally proscribed as a terrorist group and reportedly used civilians as human shields, will also be scrutinized, but since the rebel leadership is missing or dead, they have little to lose.
The government is refusing to cooperate with the 12-member investigative team, which will be advised by former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, a former U.N. special envoy to Kosovo who won the Nobel peace prize in 2008; Dame Silvia Cartwright, who served as a judge on a U.N.-backed tribunal of former leaders of Cambodia's Khmer Rouge regime of the late 1970s; and Asma Jahangir, former chief of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.
The investigation is unlikely to lead to judicial proceedings any time soon. It was opposed by Russia and China, whose assent would be needed for any referral to the International Criminal Court. But its conclusions could crimp the international space for any Sri Lankans implicated in abuses. Several U.S. lawmakers have urged restrictions on the entry into the United States of any Sri Lankan responsible for war crimes.
A recent report by South African lawyer Yasmin Sooka examines alleged killings and disappearances of more than 100 Tamils in so-called "white flag" incidents at the end of the war. Sooka previously served on an U.N. panel of experts on Sri Lanka.
In particular, Sooka's Johannesburg-based Foundation for Human Rights probes the communications between Nadesan and Pulidevan, foreign and Sri Lankan intermediaries, and government officials in the final 48 hours as the rebel leaders sought to surrender. It concludes that available evidence indicates "an organized government plan at the highest level" to execute rebel leaders in violation of international humanitarian law.
The report cites four unnamed eyewitnesses as saying Nadesan and Pulidevan gave themselves up to Sri Lankan forces among a group of 12 people holding white flags after dawn on May 18, 2009. One witness said the group was received by Maj. Gen. Shavendra Silva, the commander of the army's 58th Division.
An hour later, the same witness saw the leaders' corpses at a roadside, surrounded by soldiers taking photos. Pictures of the lifeless bodies, with burn marks on their torsos, later appeared online.
The U.S. State Department reported to Congress in October 2009 that an unnamed Tamil witness who later escaped the area said the Sri Lankan army started firing machine guns at the surrendering group, reportedly killing all of them.
The Sri Lankan government has said the leaders were killed in combat, but has given contradictory accounts of how that happened. Rajapaksa has said they may have been shot in the confusion of battle by Sri Lankan forces; Kohona has previously said they were shot in the back by rebel fighters.
Silva, who now serves as Kohona's deputy at Sri Lanka's mission at the U.N., did not respond to a request for an interview with AP.
Kohona distanced himself from earlier comments, now saying he doesn't personally know what happened.
He confirmed that he sent text messages to a European intermediary with advice for the rebels on how to surrender, but he said he was not aware of a surrender deal. He said he does not believe a kill order was issued by Rajapaksa and executed by Silva.
"It is very easy to make allegations. It's very easy to find witnesses among those who have an ax to grind. But as to whether these carry any credibility is a different matter," said Kohona, a former attorney in Sri Lanka's supreme court.
Associated Press writer Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations contributed to this report.
Yasmin Sooka's report: (**)

Categories: Indonesian News

Jokowi holds ‘blusukan’ around Jakarta, Kalla treated in hospital

31 min 46 sec ago
Presidential candidate Joko “Jokowi” Widodo was scheduled to hold impromptu visits (blusukan) at three locations around Jakarta and Tangerang, Banten, on Monday, while his running mate Jusuf Kalla was being treated at a hospital due to fatigue.
According to, in the morning, Jokowi visited Pondok Labu market in South Jakarta to talk with vendors and customers, as well as several volunteers and party members. Jokowi then continued his trip to Kebayoran Lama market for half an hour at 12 pm before making his way to the Ciputat market.
In the afternoon, Jokowi was scheduled to hold a discussion with teachers and workers at a Mardi Gras event at the Bundaran 3 Citra Raya in Grand Cikupa, Tangerang, followed by a fast-breaking meal at the NasDem Party headquarters in Central Jakarta.
Jokowi was also slated to share tarawih (extra prayer service) with Yusuf Mansur, a prominent cleric, before ending his day of campaign.
Meanwhile, his running mate, Jusuf Kalla, 72, was being treated at the Abdi Waluyo Hospital in Menteng, Central Jakarta, due to fatigue after a frenetic campaign schedule.
Former industry minister Fahmi Idris, Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo) chairman Sofjan Wanandi and Jokowi-Kalla campaign team consultant Eep Saefullah Fatah were among the several colleagues who visited Kalla, who is the current chairman of the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI).
“Pak Jokowi has not yet visited Pak Kalla because he needs full rest. Pak Kalla has agreed with a request from his wife, Ibu Mufidah, to cancel a campaign event scheduled in Padang [West Sumatra] on Tuesday,” Fahmi said.
Fahmi admitted that the tight campaign schedule had been the main factor driving Kalla’s fatigue, though he said the vice presidential candidate’s blood pressure and cardiac condition were fine. He added that Kalla’s campaign team would hold a press conference regarding his condition on Monday afternoon.
“During the past few days, Pak Kalla left his home at 6 am to hold campaign events. Everyday, he woke up at 5 am and ended his campaign at 2 am. Anyone would have difficulty coping with that kind of schedule,” he said.
On Sunday evening, Kalla and his rival vice presidential candidate, Hatta Rajasa, debated each other’s platforms concerning human resources development, science and technology.
Sunday’s debate, the only one to feature the vice presidential candidates, was the fourth in a series of five held by the General Elections Commission (KPU) during the presidential campaign period, which runs from June 14 to July 5. The three days from July 6-8 efore election day on July 9 have been designated a “cooling-off” period where campaigning is prohibited.
Jokowi and Kalla, who occupy the number-two position on the ballot, are supported by a coalition led by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P). Coalition partners are the National Awakening Party (PKB), the Hanura Party and the NasDem Party. The coalition secured 207, or 39.97 percent of the 560 seats in the House of Representatives during the legislative election on April 9. (gda)

Categories: Indonesian News

Investors fret over possible election dispute: minister

31 min 46 sec ago
The rising tension during the 2014 presidential election campaign has made foreign investors worry that the election might end in a dispute, a minister has said.
“I just realized how worried investors are about our election," Finance Minister M Chatib Basri said in Jakarta on Monday, after meeting with a number of foreign investors in Singapore last week, as quoted by
He said one of the indicators of that concern was the rate of the rupiah against the US dollar, which had continued to fall over the past two weeks, reaching 12,000 rupiah per dollar on a few occasions.
He emphasized that investors need not fret over the winner of the upcoming election, but that if the election resulted in a dispute, it could trigger conflict.
For his part, Chatib said that Indonesia had ample experience in dealing with elections.
"I have also told them that whomever the president is, the Indonesian economy must improve and grow at a rate of 7 percent a year,” he added. (nfo)
Categories: Indonesian News

Russian journalist killed in east Ukraine: employer

31 min 46 sec ago
A journalist with Russian public television has been shot dead in east Ukraine where pro-Moscow separatists are battling Ukrainian forces, the media worker's employer Channel One said Monday.
Anatoly Klyan, a 68-year-old cameraman, was among a group of Russian journalists on a reporting trip with the insurgents, the TV channel said.
"Once on site, shots rang out from the soldiers' side. Anatoly Klyan was mortally wounded in the stomach," said the channel.
The driver of the bus transporting the journalists was wounded and in hospital on Monday morning, said a reporter from Russian news channel Rossiya 24.
Klyan had worked 40 years for the Russian channel and had carried out several missions in difficult conditions, his employer said.
On June 17, two members of a Russian television crew were killed in the ex-Soviet state's separatist east. They were the first Russian media workers confirmed to have died in eastern Ukraine since fighting erupted there in mid-April.
Italian photographer Andrea Rocchelli and his Russian assistant Andrei Mironov were killed also killed in the restive region in late May. (***)
Categories: Indonesian News

Putting it briefly: Simon bows out to Lin Dan

31 min 46 sec ago
JAKARTA: Indonesian shuttler Simon Santoso has once again caved in to Lin Dan of China, this time during their 12th meeting at the Australia Open Super Series fi nals in Sydney on Sunday.
Simon, the only Indonesian to make it the fi nal round, started off on a positive note, stealing the fi rst game 22-24. As Lin warmed up, he upped the intensity of his play in the second game, making Simon falter under the stream of his smashes and sharp net shots 16-21. By the third game, Simon was unable to keep up a fi ght, allowing Lin to capture the tournament title.
“I made a lot of mistakes in the second game that benefi ted my opponent. By the third game I had blisters on my feet so I couldn’t cope with his speed,” said Simon in a statement.
He said that he did not want to blame his condition. “That’s [the blisters] not the reason why I was defeated. Lin played good. I just hope that I can play better in the next tournament and win against him next time,” said Simon.
Aside from the men’s singles category, China also brought home the women’s doubles title won by London Olympic medalists Tian Qing/Zhao Yunlei. South Korea snatched another two titles with men’s doubles Lee Yong Dae/Yoo Yeon Seong and mixed doubles pair Ko Sung Hyun/Kim Ha Na. India’s Saina Nehwal grabbed the women’s singles title after defeating Carolina Marin of Spain.
Categories: Indonesian News

Senior Australian bishop charged with child sex abuse

31 min 46 sec ago
One of the most senior members of the Catholic Church in Australia has stepped down from his role after being charged with child sex abuse, the Church said on Monday.
Max Davis, who heads the church's military diocese, is reportedly Australia's most senior clergyman and the first Australian Catholic bishop to be charged with a child sex offence.
It is alleged he sexually abused a student while teaching at St Benedict's College near Perth in 1969 -- two years before he was ordained.
No further details were provided by police.
The Catholic Military Ordinariate of Australia said in a statement that Davis, 68, "emphatically denies" the charge.
"An allegation has been made to the police that in 1969 Bishop Max Davis abused a student at St. Benedict's College in New Norcia," the statement said.
"At that time -- 45 years ago -- the bishop was not ordained. The bishop emphatically denies the allegation and the charge will be defended."
The Australian Defence Force said Davis had stood aside from his position while the matter was dealt with by the courts.
"Defence is aware civilian police have laid charges against Bishop Max Davis," a spokeswoman said.
"Bishop Davis has stood aside from his office as Catholic bishop of the ADF and Catholic member of the Religious Advisory Committee to the Services.
"It would be inappropriate for Defence to comment further while this matter is subject to judicial proceedings."
The charge comes with a Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse underway in Australia after growing pressure to investigate widespread allegations of paedophilia, mostly in the Catholic Church.
Its hearings are covering harrowing allegations of child abuse involving places of worship, orphanages, community groups and schools.
The military is separately conducting its own national inquiry into abuse after the service was rocked by claims of rape and sexual assault, a culture of cover-ups and a failure to punish perpetrators.
Davis, who has been the top military bishop since 2003, is expected to appear in court in July. (***)
Categories: Indonesian News

Eko Purnomowidi: Sensible farming

31 min 46 sec ago
Coffee grower and connoisseur Eko Purnomowidi finds a new home for Sudanese Arabica.
Having been involved in the coffee export business for years, Eko Purnomowidi used to believe that when talking about Arabica, discussions should only revolve around the two major regional players Toraja and Sumatra.

His opinion changed when his curiosity was piqued by a fellow exporter showing him a new variety of bean at a gathering in Medan. The bean was of a similar color to the Sumatran bean but was a different shape and when he tasted it — he was very impressed with its character.

“My friend said it was from Bandung. I didn’t believe it at first as I wasn’t aware of it being a significant coffee growing region,” Eko told The Jakarta Post.

His friend said that it would be blended with Mandailing, an idea that Eko lamented, as it had the potential as a single-origin ground.

Eko later collaborated with search and rescue (SAR) volunteers from Persaudaraan Gunung Puntang Indonesia (PGPI), who agreed to help him research the Sundanese coffee variety in Panawuan and Gunung Puntang, which were coffee plantation areas during the Dutch colonial period.

When the group first arrived in Panawuan in 2008, it was only the older generation that had any memory of the area’s coffee history. Those who lived near the forest did work the land; however, their crop of choice was vegetables and their methods were having an adverse affect on their forest.

Some had planted Sumatran coffee but the quality of the beans was low-grade due to poor pre- and post-harvesting treatment.

The SAR group introduced the local variety to the farmers and worked with them to establish small-scale plantations. As a result they setup the cooperative Klasik Beans and later developed a local variety and bridged the gap between the farmers and foreign buyers.

Eko passed on everything he learnt about growing coffee.

 “A farmer asked once why we had to harvest them when the cherries were red, I said that it benefited farmers as the ripe cherries weighed more and it was better for the plants,” said Eko.

He finally convinced hundreds of farmers to stop clearing the forests and instead participate in the initiative.

“Coffee is best grown in forests because it needs shade to protect it from direct sunlight and rainfall. This is why it’s good for conservation.”

The first harvest was two and a half years after the first visit and the crops, known as Arabica Sunda Hejo, are sent across the world through Sweet Maria, a coffee trading portal. Their productions have been sent to Europe, the US, Japan, with very little amount catering the local demand.

After the success in Bandung, the cooperative also began to produce Robusta Telagawangi in two areas in Garut, West Java, as well as cooperating with farmers in Kintamani, Bali, to produce local Arabica under the brand Bali Vintage.

“In healthy houses live healthy residents. The same thing goes for coffee,” he said.

Born in Jakarta on June 9, 1968, Eko’s father died when he had just graduated from high school, forcing him to work during his undergraduate studies.

He married his childhood friend, Ita Lestari, after they met again near university graduation and they had their first son, Athallah Satya, in 2001.

Eko took a job to build a road in Kalimantan after graduation, crossing Kalimantan forests with hundreds of transmigrants. Angered with the corruption in the project, he promised to always standup against it. He returned to Jakarta after the project was stopped due to the 1998 economic crisis.

He took a job with an exporting company and based in a coffee plantation in Lampung to learn about Robusta in 2000.

He came face-to-face with corruption again and the company then transferred him to another office in Medan and he later worked more with Arabica. He remained with the company before working for Klasik Beans.

Eko dismissed the classic problems of low income and poverty as a constraint to growing coffee.

He argued that most coffee farmers, from Takengon to Papua, were small holders and this was actually an advantage as coffee needed patience and attention.

“The work to grow and harvest coffee can be shared in a family,” said Eko.

He referred to how the Japanese grew green tea; in small plantations because the leaves should be steamed two hours after picking.

“The same thing goes with coffee, sometimes it takes three months for all cherries to ripen during harvest time,” he said.

As it generally takes half a day to care for coffee, he said farmers can still have time to do other activities to get more income. “Farmers can keep cattle or plant other crops to sustain their daily needs.”
Categories: Indonesian News

Guess what?: Farah sets special menu for ‘Lebaran’

31 min 46 sec ago
JAKARTA: Celebrity chef Farah Quinn has setup a list of special Palembang dishes for Idul Fitri, or Lebaran.
Although she has to spend most of the fasting month abroad, she said she would return for a family gathering on Lebaran that would fall on July 28.
“I will prepare Palembang dishes for the occasion. The main dish will be nasi minyak,” said Farah, who comes from a Palembang family in South Sumatra.
Nasi minyak is a special dish of rice cooked in oil made of buffalo’s milk and prepared with rendang, pineapple and chili sauce with pickles.
“I can’t wait for my mother’s famous dishes such as caramelized chicken cooked with green chili,” she was quoted as saying by on Saturday.
Recently separated with husband Carson Quinn, with whom she has a son, Farah said they were still on good terms.
“He will join us for Lebaran in Jakarta,” she said.
Categories: Indonesian News

Guess what?: Mathias excited with new role

1 hour 33 min ago
JAKARTA: Seasoned actor Mathias Muchus will play a soccer coach in the new film Garuda 19: Semangat Membatu (Garuda 19: Solid as a Rock).

The feature movie, directed by documovie maker Andi Bachtiar Yusuf, is based on the story of soccer coach Indra Sjafri, who traveled to far-flung regions to scout talent. The under-19 national team he formed won the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Cup last year.

“I’m excited to play the role of Indra Sjafri, who has to go far to find talent and deal with problems along the way,” the 57-year-old was quoted as saying by

Produced by Mizan Productions, shooting started early this month and will be done in different regions such as Yogyakarta, Surakarta in Central Java, Ngawi in East Java, Kendari and Buton island in Southeast Sulawesi and Alor island in East Nusa Tenggara.
Categories: Indonesian News

Bookreview: Not all sweetness in the mill

1 hour 33 min ago
Anthropologists study the programs intensely, seeking clues to times past. So this is how the people lived, residing in marvelous mansions wearing splendid clothes and startling makeup.

These white-skinned beauties never worked, yet never wanted. Their frantic days were full of intrigue; scheming mothers-in-law, schoolgirls planning liaison and everywhere maids eavesdropping, ready to pour on the gasoline of gossip should the flames of malice grow dim.

After thorough study, cultural historians deduced that these programs were true reflections of 2014. They wrote theses about the Age of Affluence, concluding that Indonesians were wealthy, idle and evil.

Now look back 160 years. How did people live then? With no cinema, television or photography, the only resource we have is the printed word. In the early 1900s, this was largely controlled by the Dutch.

So until recently it’s been the colonial-eye versions of the olden days that have provided our knowledge. Now through the Jakarta publisher Lontar we’re getting the chance to see different versions of the times conceived by indigenous authors.

The Saga of Siti Mariah was written by Haji Mukti, who was probably born in 1850 to a Dutch father and a Javanese mother. His name may be a pseudonym and it seems he wrote himself into the novel as Sondari, the most decent man in the book and who’d made the pilgrimage to Mecca.

 His work first appeared in a Bandung newspaper as a serial between 1910 and 1912. It was written in Malay, the lingua franca used by traders across the archipelago. Later this became the accepted tongue when the founders of independence realized that imposing the complex and hierarchical Javanese would alienate everyone outside the main island.

The story was reprinted again as a serial in Jakarta between 1962 and 1965, then 22 years later as a book edited by Indonesia’s foremost man of letters and president Soeharto’s most famous political prisoner, Pramoedya Ananta Toer.

So here’s one of the earliest known examples of fiction published in Indonesia, set locally and written in what was to become the national language. This makes it an important document, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it reflects the times.

The plot seems to have been drawn from European literature rather than Javanese. It starts in 1854 and runs for much of the century as children are born out of wedlock, abandoned, raised by strangers, overcome hazards, make good in the world and eventually find their rightful place. This being pre-DNA, they need birthmarks to ensure later identification and alert the reader to take out tissues for the reunions to come.

The cast includes misused concubines, villains of boundless evil, well-meaning fumblers, honorable men led astray and good salt-of-the-earth types to keep our faith in human nature intact. Unfortunately, most are cardboard cutouts rather than complex personalities.

There are empty graves, a tiger that declines to dine on a passerby, curious encounters everywhere and enough coincidences to get the characters out of one crisis and into the next episode.

Siti Mariah is a much misused but stoical beauty who knows her womanly duties. The main setting is a huge sugar mill owned by a rich and ruthless Dutch widow who manipulates her family and employees.

Translator Catherine Manning Muir claims the book is “a window into the workings of a brutal colonial state”, although it’s really more about the nastiness of evildoers, balanced by fine deeds of ordinary folk.

The system was feudal and easily condemned from the vantage of the present. But imposing today’s values on yesteryear’s political and economic systems is a useless exercise. We’d do everything differently with hindsight.

The Dutch-run sugar industry used a forced cultivation system called Cultuurstelsel that determined the crops grown by the peasants and the quantity to be exported. It restricted people’s choice and movements and was eventually scrapped in 1870 in favor of free trade.

This is the period covered by the book, yet little of the economic policy seeps into the plot, which remains people-centered. When officials do appear they’re part of the landscape, village heads and mill managers who sort out problems and dispense wisdom, rather than act unkindly.

In one brief section a wayward Islamic teacher tries to stir strife among the workers, but the dutiful employees reject the man’s teachings and are reunited with a benevolent boss.

If there is a political message it’s that some Dutch sugar czars squandered their wealth and created hardships in the colonies by letting the mills run down. The author sets a few scenes in the Netherlands and reserves much of his bile for European opulence, but his real intention is to produce a moral tract.

Haji Mukti’s deity is a God of wrath and retribution. When the harridan tumbles into the mill machinery and gets dismembered in gory detail, the triumphant author adds in italics: “Praise the Lord God Almighty!”

Just in case the message gets missed the writer steps out of the text to offer asides: “Dear Reader, that was how things were in the old days when people resisted the devil’s lustful temptations, but now it has all changed. The old ways have been scuttled.”

A quaint device that doesn’t help the writer and reader bond. It may have worked a century ago when literacy levels were low, but today it smacks of religious propaganda. Read it nonetheless as another piece in the jigsaw of the archipelago’s history.

The Saga of Siti Mariah
Haji Mukti (translated by Catherine
Manning Muir)
Lontar, 2014
390 pages
Categories: Indonesian News

News Flash: Citibank launches new digital banking service

1 hour 33 min ago
JAKARTA: Citibank has launched a new digital banking service called CitiDirect Banking Evolution (BE), which has a payment analytics feature, making transactions more effective and convenient for customers.

The new service, launched on June 24, boasts three main features: the Payment Analytic feature, Receivables Vision and the CitiDirect BE Mobile.

The Payment Analytic feature provides comprehensive payment data transparency in an interactive dashboard display. The Receivables Vision displays the ongoing process of transaction and the CitiDirect BE Mobile allows bank customers to receive transaction notifications through short message services (SMS) and control their transactions without being bounded by time and space.

“Our new service is useful to help corporations and individual customers to increase the efficiency of their financial management. Our service can also support the lifestyle of our customers, which has become more mobile recently,” Citibank Indonesia treasury and trade solutions managing director Rico Tasmaya said in a press release.

Aside from the CitiDirect BE, the bank is also offering Treasury Vision, a website-based service that allows customers to monitor their company’s overall financial position, engage in forecasting activities and manage global liquidity and company risks in a more effective way.

The bank has also introduced a Citi Manager application which consolidates the use of corporate cards into a user-friendly portal service.
Categories: Indonesian News

News Flash: New BCA card gives more benefits and rewards

1 hour 33 min ago
JAKARTA: Visa has launched its latest credit card innovation with the BCA Black Visa Signature, a product that promises to provide more benefits and rewards than ever for customers.

The move has been taken in response to growing demand from Visa’s more affluent clientele for better services. According to PT Visa Worldwide Indonesia president director Ellyana Fuad, this new card is perfect for those who do a lot of business traveling or go on frequent vacations.

“The affluent consumer segment we’re targeting typically is short on time and demand exclusive services and special offers that fit their lifestyles,” Ellyana said, as quoted by, adding that this card is designed with these consumers in mind.

“All of these new innovations are proof of BCA’s commitment to satisfying our customers and giving them the best possible financial solutions for their transactions,” said Bank Central Asia senior general manager Santoso.

Options for clients will be divided into three cards. They are, in order of ranking, the Visa Infinite, the Visa Signature and the Visa Platinum.

Research by Visa suggests that affluent Indonesians tend to spend their money on vacationing with their families rather than on expensive shopping sprees. And when they do go on holidays, they raise their level of expenses. The results also indicate that these same people would rather choose to have quality time with their family.
Categories: Indonesian News

News Flash: BNI’s new m-POS service gets its first user

1 hour 33 min ago
JAKARTA: Equity Life Indonesia has officially become the first user of a new mobile point of sales (m-POS) service system developed by Bank Negara Indonesia (BNI) and Telkomsel.

This collaboration was made official with all three parties signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on June 26.

Dodit Wiweko Probojakti, the general manager of BNI’s product management division in consumer and retail banking, said that BNI’s m-POS service was a new platform that allowed users to conduct credit card transactions via smartphone.

All they need is two things: a smartphone that has BNI’s m-POS application installed and a credit card reader connected to the phone.

“With the BNI m-POS service, payment transactions can be done safely and easily, because the service uses 3G- and Wi-Fi-based Electronic Data Capture software that can be used by anyone who has a smartphone,” Dodit said, as quoted by

This platform has made BNI the first bank in Indonesia to use m-POS services. It has also made Indonesia the third ASEAN nation to use them, alongside Thailand and the Philippines.

With MasterCard Indonesia’s support, the BNI m-POS system is set to be launched on July 5. Meanwhile, PT Equity Life Indonesia’s president director, Samuel Setiawan, said that his organization is pleased to partner with BNI for this new service.
Categories: Indonesian News

Banks to see liquidity remain tight in second half

3 hours 2 min ago
The availability of cash and other liquid assets in the country’s banking industry will remain tight in the second half of this year as competition to gain deposits persists.

“Funding is not as easy to acquire as before because the economic slowdown has caused sources to dry up at the moment. We can tell from the deposits growth, which is quite flat, if not slowing,” said Doddy Ariefianto, an economist at the Deposit Insurance Corporation (LPS).

National banks’ third-party funds, which consist of savings, time deposits and demand deposits, grew at a pace of 11.8 percent to Rp 3.55 quadrillion (US$293.29 billion) in April from a year before, the latest data from the Financial Services Authority (OJK) shows.

On the other hand, yearly credit growth has been increasing at a faster rate than that of deposits since January, ranging between 19 percent and 20 percent. By the end of April, the outstanding amount of credit disbursed reached Rp 3.22 quadrillion.

That, according to Doddy, has pushed the loan-to-deposit ratio (LDR) above 90 percent, or dangerously close to the LDR benchmark of 92 percent set by financial regulators as the maximum healthy level of a bank’s LDR.

Using the LDR ratio as one of the main indicators to determine the soundness of the banking sector has fueled competition among banks for deposits, he added. “The loan-to-funding ratio should be used instead of the loan-to-deposit ratio. That way banks can source from other funding channels, such as bonds. If things stay as they are now, the LDR will rise even higher in the second half.”

Budi Gunadi Sadikin, president director of Indonesia’s largest lender, Bank Mandiri, acknowledged the situation, saying that he predicted pressures on liquidity would only begin to ease approaching year-end or in the beginning of 2015 at the latest.

“We are hoping to see improvements in the current-account deficit that will turn things around,” he said.

 Mandiri’s LDR is currently around 80 percent and the lender plans on maintaining the ratio at between 85 percent and 90 percent.

The recent issue of retail bonds by the government, however, has affected liquidity even more as some customers have opted to invest in the debt papers instead of placing their excess funds in banks, according to Budi.

To cope with that, the state lender may increase the interest rate of its time deposits offered to premium customers, a measure that fellow state-owned Bank Negara Indonesia (BNI) may also take to solve the liquidity issue.

BNI president director Gatot M. Suwondo said that it would increase the rate if Bank Indonesia (BI) jacked up its benchmark rate in the second half. “A higher BI rate means tighter liquidity. We may then increase our rate to draw in funds,” he said.

By the end of 2014, BNI expects to see its time deposits account for 35 percent of its total third-party funds, higher than 33 percent recorded now. It also aims to keep its LDR at 85 percent.

Contrary to Mandiri and BNI, private lender Bank Central Asia (BCA), which has plenty of third-party funds, has stable liquidity with an LDR hovering around 76 percent, president director Jahja Setiaatmadja said.
Categories: Indonesian News

Export tax not beneficial to local grinders

3 hours 2 min ago

The progressive tax on cocoa exports is said to have helped develop the domestic cocoa processing industry, but has proven ineffective in helping local cocoa grinding companies advance.

Zulhefi Sikumbang, chairman of the Indonesia Cocoa Association (Askindo), which represents cocoa growers and exporters, said at least seven companies with a total capacity of around 260,000 tons were unable to work optimally due to a shortage of cocoa beans.

The export tax is meant to maintain the cocoa bean supply to the local industry.

The struggling grinders are PT Kopi Jaya Kakao, PT Maju Bersama Cocoa Industries, PT Poleko Kakao Industry, PT Unicom Kakao Makmur, PT Budidaya Kakao Lestari, Davomas, PT Cacao Wangi Murni and PT Industri Kakao Utama.

“The tax was initially intended to strengthen those companies, but they could not. Instead, the tax policy has only attracted foreign investors who benefit from the facility,” Zulhefi said.

To avoid a second policy mishap at the expense of Indonesian growers, the government needed to thoroughly assess its plan to remove the import duty for cocoa beans, which was aimed at helping secure raw material for the fast-growing processing industry amid stagnant production, he added.

Askindo has suggested the processing industry absorb whole cocoa beans produced by local farmers first before it demands imported crops.

In the past year, nearly 200,000 tons of beans were still exported, the group’s data reveals.

When imports are eased through the removal of import duties, raw beans may flood the domestic market, pushing down prices. Once this happens and farmers incur losses, they will likely shift from growing cocoa to other commodities, the group says.

The Trade Ministry has mulled since last year a plan to scrap the import duty on cocoa beans, as it wants to ensure the availability of the beans for domestic grinding.

The plan is primarily supported by the Indonesian Cacao Industry Association (AIKI), which considers the move necessary to boost the competitiveness of the national processing industry. The zero percent duty should be applied to certain types of beans required for blending to produce premium cocoa powder, AIKI executive director Sindra Wijaya said.

At present, the existing duties erode the competitive edge of Indonesia from its rival Malaysia, which applied zero duty to ease its own industry, he added.

Trade Minister Muhammad Lutfi said that while the priority would be to boost output, it could take two-and-a-half to 3 years.

“The industry should then be facilitated by slashing import duties to allow them to become more competitive,” he said.

The government launched a five-year replanting program in 2009 to achieve an ambitious goal of boosting output to 1.2 million tons by 2014. However, it failed, particularly because it did not engage farmers and only relied on subcontractors to grow new plants.

— JP/Linda Yulisman
Categories: Indonesian News

No significant progress on Asia-Pacific trade deal

3 hours 2 min ago

Into the fifth round of talks on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the 16 Asia-Pacific nations still cannot agree on core issues pertaining to trade in goods and services as well as investment.

This is raising concerns over whether the target to conclude negotiations by the end of next year is attainable.

As the seven-day meeting in Singapore ended last Friday, no significant progress had been made on tariff reductions and
elimination modality as well as schedules of commitments both in trade in services and investment, RCEP’s Trade Negotiation Committee (TNC) chairman Iman Pambagyo said.

“These issues may need to be reported to trade ministers during a meeting in August. Further instructions on level of ambition will be necessary to achieve some progress,” he said in a text message on Sunday.

Economic ministers from RCEP countries — which comprise the 10 members of ASEAN plus Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand — are slated to convene in Myanmar’s capital Naypyitaw in August.

The trade officials will report the outcome of the Singapore meeting during that event.

Despite the lack of progress on key issues, the meeting made some progress, such as in developing drafts for the agreement on trade in goods, Iman further said.

The rounds of talks, which began in Brunei Darussalam in May last year, aim to reach an accord that will create an integrated market across the Asia-Pacific of around 3.4 billion people with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of US$21.4 trillion.

The deal would boost income gains to roughly $644 billion by 2025, representing 0.6 percent of the world’s GDP, through the freer flow of goods, services, investment and labor among participating economies, according to a study by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

Indonesia would see an increase of 1 percent in its GDP by 2025 by implementing the deal.

That outcome, however, would be difficult to reach, as ASEAN and the six other trading partners may not have free trade
agreements, said Iman, who is also the Trade Ministry’s director general for international trade cooperation.

Australia, for example, still does not have a free trade agreement with Japan and China.

The absence of an agreement on tariff reduction and elimination modality, for instance, has hampered further talks on the liberalization of goods among the countries.

Negotiators, however, are still sticking to next year as the target date for finishing the talks, Iman added.

Titik Anas, an economist from Padjadjaran University, said that to complete negotiations would be difficult as the six nations outside ASEAN maintained different interests, thereby a consensus would be hard to reach.

“If negotiating members at present still cannot agree on the modality on trade in goods, it will be hard to get the commitment in 2015,” Titik said.

“Maybe they will only come out with a non-substantive deal,” she added, saying the deal on trade in services would be more difficult to conclude.

RCEP has been touted as a way for ASEAN to maintain its centrality after several challenges were posed by the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which also includes four ASEAN members, namely Singapore, Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam and Malaysia.
Categories: Indonesian News

Investment sweetens cocoa industry, builds hub for Asia

3 hours 2 min ago

The chocolate factory: A worker is seen examining machine-heated cocoa beans at a PT Bumi Tangerang Mesindotama factory in Tangerang, Banten. JP/R. Berto Wedhatama
Indonesia, the world’s third-largest cocoa producer, has seen its cocoa processing industry expand rapidly in the past few years thanks to millions of dollars in new investment by international cocoa manufacturing companies.

The investment is helping to shift the country from being a major exporter of cocoa beans to becoming a supplier of cocoa-intermediary products, such as butter, cake, liquor and powder. This will help Indonesia become a new processing hub in Asia.

Officials and business players attribute the industry’s growth to progressive export taxes on cocoa beans ranging from 5 to 15 percent since 2010, which has helped keep raw materials to feed production in the country.

Meanwhile, as much as US$237.1 million has poured in for the construction of local grinding facilities with a combined capacity of 310,000 tons. Four companies investing in the facilities are Asia Cocoa Indonesia ($50 million for a capacity of 120,000 tons), Jebe Koko ($21.5 million for 60,000 tons), Barry-Comextra ($41.6 million for 60,000 tons) and Cargill Indonesia ($124 million for 70,000 tons).

Barry-Comextra, a joint venture between Switzerland-based cocoa and chocolate products maker Barry Callebaut and Indonesia’s Comextra Majora, began operating a 30,000-ton-capacity plant in Makassar, South Sulawesi, last September.

Cargill will also follow suit soon by starting commercial operations at its new plant in Gresik, East Java, in August.

The Gresik plant, Cargill’s first cocoa processing facility in Asia, will process cocoa beans into cocoa butter, liquor and Cargill’s premium quality cocoa powder, Gerkens, to meet demand in Asia, according to Job Leuning, who heads Cargill Cocoa and Chocolate Asia.

“Demand for cocoa-flavored and chocolate products is growing fast in the Asia-Pacific region. We are confident that we will be able to better serve our customers with this new factory,” he said in an email.

Additionally, last month, Singapore-based Olam International Ltd. said it would soon build a $61 million cocoa processing plant in Greater Jakarta. With a capacity of 60,000 tons, it will produce cocoa liquor, butter, cake and high-quality cocoa powders.

Saurabh Suri, Olam’s general manager for cocoa, said consumption among Asians had grown in line with their increasing income. This, he said, had created an exceptional growth opportunity for Olam to tap into. According to company estimates, in the next 10 years, cocoa powder demand is set to rise incrementally by 75 percent.

“Establishing a processing facility in the region is, therefore, a strategic move with Indonesia being the perfect location given our long-term investment in sourcing cocoa in the country,” he said in an email.

Collectively, these sizeable expansions have helped push up domestic production capacity from an expected 150,000 tons to 500,000 tons for this year and 600,000 tons for next year, according to Sindra Wijaya, the executive director of the Indonesian Cacao Industry Association (AIKI).

The development of processing plants has also affected the number of raw beans and processed cocoa being shipped overseas, as shown in Trade Ministry data.

In terms of volume, cocoa bean exports dropped to 188,420 tons in 2013 from 432,430 tons in 2010, whereas outbound shipments of processed cocoa doubled to 209,420 tons from 104,260 tons in the same period.

The value of exported beans declined to $446.1 million last year from $1.19 billion in 2010, while sales of processed cocoa rose to $657.42 million from $406.81 million.

There is concern, however, that domestic production may not match growing cocoa bean demand, a condition that may lead to a shortage in the bean supply in the near future.

Production may fall by 6 percent to 425,000 tons this year, its lowest level in eight years, due to bad weather and diseases, the AIKI estimates, making the country source the 75,000-ton shortfall from foreign sources.

As local grinding capacity may hit 600,000 tons next year, imports may soar further to above 100,000 tons, according to the Indonesia Cocoa Association (Askindo), an alliance of cocoa growers and exporters.

Despite much-touted success in the cocoa industry, critics say the gains have been won on the back of export duties that benefit big players and leave behind smaller firms, particularly those with limited innovation, technology and distribution networks.

There are at least six local grinders that have seen their processing capacity remain idle in spite of the ease in sourcing raw materials enabled by the export taxes, according to Askindo chairman Zulhefi Sikumbang.

Apart from this, the export taxes have prevented local growers from taking full advantage of the current high price of cocoa in the global market.

— JP/Linda Yulisman
Categories: Indonesian News

Rupiah falls to 11,985 per dollar in Monday morning

3 hours 2 min ago

The rupiah traded between banks in Jakarta on Monday morning depreciated slightly to 11,985 per US dollar from 11,980 per dollar on Friday of last week.
"The rupiah continues to weaken because the US dollar is depreciating following the US economic slow down," trust securities research head Reza Priyambada said in Jakarta on Monday, as quoted by Antara news agency.
He also said that improved political prospects in Iraq , where recent conflict has affected the global price of crude oil, was not enough to help strengthen the rupiah.
However, he said that the domestic currency had a good chance to see improvements in the near future, as the government is prepared to release data regarding the country's fundamental economy, such as the inflation rate in June and the trade balance throughout May.
"Inflation is projected to decrease and the trade balance is likely to book a surplus," he added.
Meanwhile, Bank Himpunan Saudara Rully Nova said that the fluctuation of the rupiah was still strongly correlated with the uncertainties related to the upcoming presidential election.
"We predict that the rupiah rate against the US dollar will be in line with Indonesia's fundamental economic condition after the election," he said, adding that his assessment was dependent upon the election running smoothly. (nfo)


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