Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Surat dari Negeri Kincir Angin tentang lagu 'Hidup di Bui' dan 'Genjer-genjer'

Hersri Setiawan

DUA lagu itu, "Hidup di Bui" dan "Genjer-Genjer" mengalami nasib yang sama. Diperkosa dan dikorup. Itu sebabnya, maka saya merasa terpanggil untuk ikut "memberikan kesaksian" tentangnya. Kepada Samin di Jakarta dan Anwar Pr di Aachen saya mengucapkan terimakasih, untuk masukan data dan pengiriman kaset lagu "Hidup di Bui". Maka Surat Negri Kincir bagian pertama ini saya tulis khususnya buat mereka berdua.

Adapun tentang "Genjer-Genjer" lebih khusus saya tujukan pada beberapa sobat, yang belum lama ini mengangkat soal sekitar lagu ini. Mereka itu ialah Samiadji dan Umar Said, dua-duanya dari Paris, dan Aini Patria, yang mungkin dari Semarang atau entah dari mana. Dengan sendiri juga pada para pembaca tulisan sobat-sobat tersebut, baik yang liwat internet maupun yang liwat media cetak "Suara Merdeka" Semarang, "korannya Pak Hetami", di mana "dahulu kala" saya pernah magang. Tapi selain itu secara khusus juga buat sobat baik saya dari pinggir Bengawan Rhein di Belanda, yang pertama kali melempar umpan pada saya tentang "Genjer-Genjer" ini. Sobat baik itu Robert Nio alias Mang Ucup Maranatha yang, sayang sekali, konon berkeputusan mau lengser sebagai kolumnis spiritual urakan pers-internet yang luas cakupan temanya dan yang sangat produktif karyanya.
Mari kita mulai, dengan lebih dulu membicarakan lagu "Hidup di Bui".

Hidup Di Bui
untuk Samin dan Anwar Pr

Bulan Maret 2000 yang lalu, melalui jaringan internet SiaR, saya menerima sambutan dari Samin atas tulisan saya tentang lagu ini, yang telah diorbitkan oleh jarnet yang sama beberapa waktu sebelumnya.

Sambutan itu berisi masukan yang informatif dan penting, yaitu: pertama, bahwa lagu yang saya sebut menjadi "tophit" para tahanan itu ternyata juga terkenal luas di luar tahanan, dan dikenal sebagai "lagunya" band D'Lloyd; kedua, bahwa karenanya dalam tahun awal 70-an lagu ini sempat dilarang oleh Kopkamtib; ketiga, bahwa penyanyi lagu itu adalah vokalis band "D'Lloyd" bernama Sjamsudin; dan keempat, bahwa lagu itu kini (akhir 90-an alias akhir abad) direkam ulang di Indonesia dan konon kaset rekamannya terjual laris.

Sebelum saya meneruskan surat ini, barangkali ada baiknya saya tulis sekali lagi syair lagu itu.

Hidup di bui bagaikan burung
Bangun pagi makan nasi jagung
Tidur di ubin pikiran bingung
Apadaya badanku terkurung
Terompet pagi harus bangun
Makan diantri nasinya jagung
Mau merokok rokoknya puntung
Mau mandi tidak ada sabun
Oh kawan dengar lagu ini
Hidup di bui menyiksa diri
Jangan sampai kawan mengalami
Badan hidup terasa mati
Apalagi penjara Tangerang
Masuk gemuk pulang
tinggal pulang
Karena kerja secara paksa
Tua muda turun ke sawah.


Cobalah, silakan baca dengan cermat syair lagu di atas. Kata-kata apa yang membikin Kopkamtib menjadi ketakutan, sehingga merasa perlu melarangnya? Seandainya berita tentang peri kehidupan penjara -- apalagi penjara Tangerang -- yang serba kesrakat tidak beredar dalam tahun 70-an, barangkali tidak akan lagu itu ditindak dan ditindas. Tahun 70-an ada dalam rentang waktu 1965-1979, ketika penjara Salemba dan Tangerang bukan rumah penjara biasa, dalam arti tempat "pesakitan" kriminal dipenjarakan. Ketika itu penjara Salemba dan Tangerang merupakan "Rumah Tahanan Khusus" atau disingkat (dalam ejaan saat itu) "RTC". Mendapat nama resmi demikian, dengan sebutan "khusus", karena yang dipenjarakan di Rumah Tahanan itu ialah para "pesakitan" khusus, yaitu pesakitan politik bin G30S bin PKI!

Padahal bukan mereka yang di dalam Rumah Tahanan itu yang pesakitan. Tapi para petinggi Kopkamtib khususnya, dan penggede Orba umumnya itulah yang pesakitan berat. Yaitu oleh penyakit yang oleh Bung Karno (sejak tahun 20-an) disebut sebagai "komunisto fobi", dan yang saking parahnya membuat si penderita menjadi mengidap sejenis penyakit jiwa yang disebut angst psychose. Mereka itu menjadi kalang kabut. "Hidup di Bui" lalu hendak dimitoskan -- karena mereka memang lahir dan tumbuh dari mitos ke mitos, dari sejak "G30S-PKI", Pancasila Sakti, Supersemar, Bapak Pembangunan dan seribu satu mitos lainnya. "Hidup di Bui" hendak ditiup menjadi Hantu G30S-PKI yang bergentayangan di udara Orde Baru, dan para kaula negri diperintahkannya agar ikut gentar bersama mereka!

Jadi jelas sekali, "Hidup di Bui" dilarang karena Kopkamtib gentar terbayang pada curriculum vitae lagu D'Lloyd yang berhasil memasyarakat itu. Apa dan siapakah D'Lloyd yang punya band dan vokalis menggentarkan itu?

Lloyd dahulu nama organisasi besar, mengikuti nama pendirinya Edward Lloyd (1643-1713), para petugas asuransi di London, yang mempunyai agen-agennya di seluruh dunia. Kemudian Lloyd juga menjadi nama perusahaan perkapalan dan pelayaran. "D'Lloyd" dalam konteks tulisan ini, tidak ayal lagi, pastilah perusahaan pelayaran dan perkapalan "Djakarta Lloyd", yang salah satu kantornya terletak di Jalan Raden Saleh Jakarta Pusat di bilangan Cikini. Perusahaan asing ini telah menjadi milik RI sejak "jaman aksi ambil alih" perusahaan-perusahaan asing di awal tahun 50-an.

Melalui SBPP (Serikat Buruh Pelayaran dan Perkapalan), PKI menanamkan pengaruhnya yang kuat di perusahaan vital, yang bergerak di bidang kelautan ini. Tidak terlalu salah kiranya, jika saya katakan, bahwa pada saat itu Djakarya Lloyd merupakan salah satu basis penting PKI di kalangan buruh laut dan kapal. Maka tidak aneh jika sesudah Peristiwa G30S, banyak dari buruh Djakarta Lloyd, baik yang dari tingkat masa maupun tingkat pimpinan, saya jumpai sebagai sesama tapol di RTC Salemba,Tangerang, bahkan sampai di Buru.

Karena itu menjadi tidak aneh, apabila satu kali "Hidup di Bui" mendapat kesempatan menyelinap keluar dari Rumah Tahanan, maka di luar sana ia pun segera dibukakan pintu oleh keluarga Band "D'Lloyd".

Sementara itu, jika demam kegentaran Kopkamtib menjadi makin tinggi, juga bisa dimengerti dengan mudah. "Hidup di Bui" ialah nama salah satu jenis Hantu Komunis. Lahan di tempat ia kemudian inkubasi pun bekas Sarang Gestapu! Saya lalu teringat kata-kata almarhum Prof. Wertheim. Mengusut fakta dan kejadian sekitar Peristiwa G30S, katanya suatu ketika, mirip seperti mengusut cerita detektif. Rupanya memang harus begitu. Karena G30S/PKI adalah satu mitos, yang dibangun melalui manuver-manuver terorisme ala bandit.

Sesungguhnya ucapan terimakasih dan ungkapan rasa hormat perlu disampaikan pada Band "D'Lloyd" dan vokalis Syamsudin, yang telah berani menyanyikan lagu Hantu Komunis Kopkamtib: "Hidup di Bui". Baik Band "D'Lloyd" maupun Syamsudin tidak pernah mengumumkan siapa pengarang lagu itu, tapi sementara itu pun tidak pernah mereka mendaku (meng-klaim) lagu itu sebagai buah ciptaan mereka. Mereka berani mengambil resiko, sekaligus menunjukkan akhlak mereka yang tidak korup. Itu sama sekali berbeda dari apa yang akan saya ceritakan di bawah ini.

Pada awal tulisan sudah saya sebut, masukan Samin juga mengatakan: bahwa, "Hidup di Bui" akhir-akhir ini telah direkam ulang; dan bahwa, kaset rekaman ulang itu laris di pasaran kaset ibukota. Kemudian belum lama ini, dari sobat di Aachen Anwar Pr, saya menerima kiriman kopi kaset yang berisi lagu itu (tengkyu, Mas!). Pada label aseli kaset ini terbaca sebagai diproduksi oleh PT Surya Panorama Sakti, Risky Record tahun 1999; sedang pencipta lagu dicantumkannya seorang bernama Bartje van Houten (sic!). Seorang komponis Belanda, jika kita melihat namanya. Di samping itu juga terdapat sedikit perbedaan pada syair lagu.

Mungkin perbedaan itu timbul dari pengubahan yang disengaja, sebagai cara untuk menyelubungi tindakannya yang korup itu. Perubahan yang seakan kecil dan sedikit, tapi sangat besar dan banyak keganjilan-keganjilan yang ditimbulkannya -- nota bene timbul dari kebodohan si produser sendiri.

Perbedaan syair "Bartje van Houten" terdapat pada baris ke-3 dan ke-4 dari bait kedua, yaitu sekedar mengulang baris-baris yang sama dari bait pertama, sehingga bait itu menjadi berbunyi (perhatikan sanjak akhir tiap-tiap baris):

Terompet pagi kita harus bangun [un]
Makan diantri nasinya jagung [ung]
Tidur di ubin pikiran bingung [ung]
Apa daya badan terkurung [ung].
Bandingkanlah dengan syair aseli dari komponis anonim:

Terompet pagi kita harus bangun [un]
Makan diantri nasinya jagung [ung]
Mau merokok rokoknya puntung [ung]
Mau mandi tidak ada sabun [un].


Perubahan kecil tapi sangat besar, yang sekaligus mencerminkan watak pengubahnya yang pengecut selain korup, terdapat pada baris ke-1 bait terakhir. Jadi, bait terakhir syair Bartje van Houten, perhatikan, berbunyi:

Apalagi penjara jaman perang
Masuk gemuk ... dst.
Bandingkan dengan syair komponis anonim:
Apalagi penjara Tangerang
Masuk gemuk ... dst.


Hai Meneer Bartje! Mengapa jij takut sama kata "Tangerang", sehingga perlu diganti menjadi "jaman perang"? Jaman perang kapan itu? "Jaman Bersiap" atau "Jaman Soekarno", jij punya maksud? Pernahkah di jaman-jaman itu orang-orang Nica dan Belanda, yang ditahan Pemuda dan Republik, dikasih umpan ransum nasi jagung yang harus diantri? Pernahkah di jaman-jaman itu, jaman perang itu (sic!), tahanan tua-muda disuruh kerja paksa turun ke sawah?

Tuan Bartje! Ketahuilah. Tidak ada tahanan di penjara mana pun di Indonesia dan di jaman apa pun, entah bangsa apa saja mereka itu, yang disuruh kerja paksa menggarap sawah. Selain pada satu kurun jaman, yaitu Jaman Orde Baru. Itu pun hanya terhadap tahanan politik G30S/PKI.

Karena mereka menjadi tahanan, tetapi harus menghidupi diri sendiri dan bahkan menjadi sapi perahan para penahannya. Karena itulah, maka Kodam V Jaya Jakarta Raya membuka proyek pertanian di Cikokol, yang mempekerjakan tenaga tapol sebagai pekerja rodi.

Kembali pada lagu "Hidup di Bui". Saya ingin menggunakan kesempatan ini untuk menyeru pada teman-teman pemusik, yang pernah bertahun-tahun menghuni RTC Salemba dan Tangerang. Mereka itu, antara lain Martin Lapanguli, M. Karatem, Suripto, (sayang Nurjaslan sudah beberapa waktu lalu meninggal), Pardede ... Bicaralah! Siapa sebenarnya penggubah lagu tophit penjara Orba ini?***

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

‘It’s very, very alarming. It’s a warning signal.’ (Michel Jarraud, Secretary-general of the World Meteorological Organization)

As six months of winter darkness descend over the top of the world, temperatures are falling and the Arctic Ocean is again freezing. But the damage has been done. The National Snow and Ice Data Center reports that just 1.65 million sq. mi. (about 4.3 million sq km) of Arctic sea ice survived the summer’s annual melt. That’s the smallest amount left over after September since scientists began keeping records. And they estimated the Arctic ice may have shrunk by half since the 1950s. Worse, the melt is accelerating. The Arctic may be ice-free by the summer of 2030, far earlier than previous predictions. Though melting sea ice doesn’t cause oceans to rise, it can speed global warming by exposing more dark water to sunlight. The machinery of the Arctic climate is mysterious, but this much seems clear: what begins in the north will eventually touch all of us.
By Bryan Walsh.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Change the world 9 to five: # 1. Avoid Waste

"If each one of the UK's ten million office workers used one less staple a day, 120 tonnes of steel would be saved every year"
(Leo Hickman's A Good Life)

OK, this sounds like a boring, worthy bit of advice.

And maybe it is.

Someone has calculated that if everyone in UK offices saved one staple a day, that would be 120 tonnes of metal saved a year.

As the old blues song nearly had it, '120 tonnes and what do you get?

Another day older and deeper in debt.'

I can't take staples very seriously, to be honest. But the person who worked out that calculation takes all this stuff very seriously.

And if they've gone to all that trouble, the least you can do is think about it.

I mean, look at this staplefree stapled page. It's pretty cool, isn't it?

FYI: This page has been stapled with a Stapless Stapler available to buy from our shop.

Iniuriarum remedium est oblivio

LUPA adalah jalan terbaik yang ditempuh banyak manusia dalam sejumlah peradaban untuk menyembuhkan masalah, sakit, luka, kesalahan, noda, duka, ketidakdilan yang tak terselesaikan.

Manusia datang dan pergi, peradaban timbul dan tenggelam, tetapi masalah manusia tetap sama: bagaimana menerima dan memelihara kehidupan. Dalam merawat kehidupan itulah luka dan ketidakadilan sering timbul.
Alam mengajar kita bahwa satu-satunya jalan adalah menyembuhkan atau menyelesaikan masalah-masalah dan ketidakadilan itu, tapi kenyataan sering berkata lain. Tidak semua yang melukai suka menyembuhkan, demikian juga yang terluka seringkali tak gampang disembuhkan.

Luka atau ketidakadilan sosial pun demikian adanya. Tak semua mekanisme sosial sanggup menyembuhkan sebuah luka secara sungguh. Banyak yang hanya memamerkan simbolisme tanpa makna, tanpa menyentuh akar persoalan. Yang melukai tetap tak merasa bersalah (walaupun mengaku salah secar verbal), yang terluka tentu saja tak akan sembuh dengan sebuah pengakuan, hukuman kurungan atau bahkan pengorbanan nyawa sekalipun.

Lalu orang berusaha melupa seiring waktu. Time will heal, kata peribahasa Inggris.
Satu masalah ramai dibicarakan orang, ramai dipublikasikan di media massa, beberapa hari kemudian tenggelam tak berbekas. "Media massa punya logika dan mekanisme sendiri yang tak mungkin melayani suatu isu secara terus-menerus", kata para pemilik dan pengelola media.

Suatu isu muncul menutup isu yang lain, seakan hilang tak berbekas. Hari ini korupsi, besok kerusakan lingkungan, lusa pembunuhan politik, berikutnya penggusuran dst..dst.. Sayangnya, seringkali kita lupa bahwa masalah yang sama telah terjadi sebelumnya. Tidak ada yang baru di bawah matahari, kata sang Pengkhotbah. Kasus boleh berbeda tapi pola adalah pengulangan dari masa ke masa.

Lalu kita lupa lagi dan lagi, untuk memberi kesempatan kepada kejadian yang serupa. Seneca pernah bilang mereka yang tidak mau belajar dari sejarah akan DIHUKUM untuk mengulangi sejarah itu.

Judul tulisan di atas adalah peribahasa latin yang berarti: "Lupa adalah penawar ketidakadilan-ketidakadilan". Ya, seringkali manusia menemukan penyelesaian atas ketidakadilan yang tak terselesaikan di dalam lupa. Mirip upaya orang tua yang mengalihkan perhatian anak dari kesakitan yang dialami, dalam budaya tertentu. Tetapi seiring sang anak beranjak dewasa trik masa kanak-kanak itu tidak akan mempan lagi. Sayangnya, tingkat perkembangan masyarakat kita seringkali hanya selevel perkembangan anak-anak.

Kita sangat suka dibohongi bahwa "everything gonna be ok", padahal kita ngak ok. Kita diajari untuk melupakan segala macam ketidakadilan dan sakit yang kita lihat dan alami. Kita tidak diajar untuk menyelesaikan atau menyembuhkan tapi melupakan.
Tapi sekanak-kanaknya psikologi kemasyarakatan kita, kadang naral dan logika kedewasaan kita berontak juga. Maka muncullah amok dan kekerasan di mana-mana. Sayangnya amok-amok itupun seringkali salah arah dan sasaran. Maka sakit dan luka baru muncul bertumpuk-tumpuk. Yang pasti, selalu ada obat untuk semua itu: LUPAKAN SAJA..

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Astro hopes to score big with English Premier League soccer

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Pay-TV operator PT Astro Direct Vision had some 80,000 subscribers signed up as of the end of the first semester, and hopes to more than double that figure by the year-end now that it has secured the rights to broadcast the hugely-popular English Premier League (EPL).

Astro Direct Vision, the local unit of Astro, a Malaysia-based pay-TV company, is now the sole holder of both the pay-TV and free-to-air TV rights to EPL matches.

While it also offers other channels, Astro is pinning its hopes on the EPL to help the company sign up at least 200,000 subscribers by the end of the year.

"The number of Astro subscribers has significantly increased since we purchased the EPL rights. We expect that we will be able to achieve our full-year target," Astro's corporate affairs vice president, Halim Mahfudz, told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.

The demand for Astro is so big that a would-be subscriber has to now wait for two weeks before the service can be installed.

Before Astro purchased the EPL rights for the 2007-2008 season, Indonesians could watch the matches free on terrestrial TV.

Now, EPL fans will have to pay around Rp 200,000 per month to subscribe to Astro -- in addition to a one-off Rp 200,000 installation fee -- if they want to watch their favorite teams.

For the first three months, however, Astro will waive the monthly subscription fee.

While the company is hoping to benefit hugely from the EPL, some hurdles have emerged.

On Tuesday, Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI) chairman Sasa Djuarsa Sendjaja said the commission had sent a letter to Astro asking for the EPL coverage to be opened to the public.

It had also asked the Business Competition Supervisory Commission (KPPU) to examine whether Astro's exclusive rights had breached the antimonopoly law.

"There are two aspects to this matter, business interests and the public interest. What we have done is designed to protect the public interest," said Sasa.

Responding to that, Halim said Astro was currently negotiating with ESPN Star Sport (ESS), which holds the rights to broadcast the matches in Asia, to share access with Indonesian soccer fans.

"ESS is now developing packages to be sold to local TV stations. It takes quite a while as they need the consent of various parties."

Besides the EPL, Astro also provides other forms of entertainment.

During Ramadhan, for instance, the channel will broadcast movies from different parts of the world, including movies from Iran and Uzbekistan.

"We want to give our audience other movie alternatives besides Hollywood movies so that they can learn about the cultures in other countries," said Alexander Siregar, senior programing executive of Astro Kirana, Astro's movie unit.(14/02)

Indonesian volleyball sets new target for upcoming SEA Games

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Though the men's volleyball team failed to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, the team has more than enough talent to medal at the Southeast Asian Games in Thailand in December, said assistant coach Machfud Irsyada.

"If nothing happens to the members of the team in the last three months before the SEA Games, our chance is 50-50 of beating Thailand in the final," Machfud told The Jakarta Post on Monday.

Machfud said Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar were seen as the biggest threats to Indonesia at the SEA Games, with Thailand being seen as especially dangerous because it has home advantage.

"Experience tells us that Thailand is usually dominant if it hosts a game," said Machfud.

After the recently concluded Asian Volleyball Championship, an evaluation of the team determined they lacked a fighting spirit and big game experience, Machfud said.

"In the first three matches we played very well. We had some hard-fought games against tough teams like Chinese Taipei and China. But after three matches, the team's receiving went bad and we kept losing; it was not because the team was tired, but they lacked fighting spirit," Machfud said.

He said the team would use most of the time before the SEA Games improving their skills and spirit.

Coach Hu Xin Yu will lead the team to a training camp in China's Si Chuan province from Oct. 10-21, where they will play Chinese club teams.

"Looking for a real event in the last three months before the SEA Games is impossible. Therefore we will have our players face local teams in Sichuan province, which is considered competitive enough. This is more real than just conducting training in Indonesia," said Machfud.

He said Vietnam had also invited all the SEA Games teams to participate in a warm-up event before the SEA Games, but Indonesia had not yet decided whether to participate.

"The timing is too close to the SEA Games ...," Machfud said.

Indonesia failed to gain a berth in the Beijing Olympics after its poor showing in the Asian Volleyball Championship, held from Aug. 31 to Sept. 9 in Jakarta.

As the host, Indonesia started in the round of the final eight by edging Thailand 3-2 in a five-set thriller on Sept. 3. It then lost to Chinese Taipei, powerhouse China, Japan, Iran and South Korea.

In the last match on Sunday, Indonesia to South Korea 3-0 (17-25, 17-25, 21-25), which marked the end of Indonesia's ambition for Olympic qualification.

"We tried our best, but this is the result. We will evaluate everything including using match statistics," Machfud said soon after the last match. (02)

Angie likely to join SEAG squad

Friday, September 07, 2007

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Although Angelique "Angie" Widjaja has not set a return date from her long hiatus from professional tennis, she is most likely to join the national tennis squad for the 2007 SEA Games in Thailand this December.

"I haven't signed a contract yet (to play in the SEA Games). But I have told them (the committee) I'm 95 percent ready to play," said Angie on the sidelines of a tennis coaching clinic program with nine-time Wimbledon doubles champion Todd Woodbridge of Australia.

The coaching clinic was held as part of a promotion for the Commonwealth Bank Tennis Classic, previously known as the Wismilak International, which begins next week on the resort island of Bali.

Angie said that earlier this year the national task force for the SEA Games had sent her a letter requesting she join the tennis squad, but she rejected the offer.

She changed her mind following several intent approaches made by the task force and Indonesian Tennis Association (Pelti) bigwigs.

"They tried to persuade me. Finally, I agreed to play but I said I couldn't play singles as it would be too late to prepare (for singles)," said the 22-year-old 2001 Wimbledon junior champ.

Pelti deputy secretary-general August Ferry Raturandang confirmed Angie's statement.

"Angie will join training along with other players Sandy Gumulya, Romana Tedjakusuma, Lavinia Tananta and Wynne Prakusya in the women's team and Christopher Rungkat, Elbert Sie and Suwandi in the men's team," Ferry told The Jakarta Post over the phone.

Ferry said Angie would possibly play women's doubles, teaming up with 2005 Philippine SEA Games gold medalist Wynne Prakusya, or mixed doubles, pairing with Elbert Sie or Christopher Rungkat.

Indonesia has set a lower target of two gold medals, compared to the three gold medals won at the Philippine SEA Games amid injuries to its main athletes, like Angie and Wynne.

Angie, whose world rank dropped to 390th as of Aug. 27 due to a seven-month layoff, said despite her participation in the SEA Games, she is still undecided over whether or not she will hang up her racket or continue her pro tennis career.

"I don't know whether to just stop for a short while or take a real break. I don't know if I will continue after that (the SEA Games)."

She said she would not take the wild card offered to her by the organizers of the Commonwealth Bank Tennis Classic to play in the tournament she once won in 2001 in order to "give the chance to her juniors".

"Commonwealth has a different class of quality. Three months of preparation is not enough for me. My principle is if you don't prepare properly, then you'd better not participate," she said.

"Moreover, I should not take the chance away from the juniors. Their ranks might lift (given the chance), as happened for me when I was given the chance a few years ago." (02)

Indonesia hosts first ASEAN golf event

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Around 120 golfers from Southeast Asia are participating in the inaugural event of the ASEAN Golf Tour being held at Imperial Klub in Tangerang, Banten, from Sep. 5-8.

Organizers said the tournament was designed help professional and amateur golfers in the region hone their skills.

"Many talented golfers do not have enough chances to play competitive golf. We hope this tournament will therefore be one they have to put on their schedule," tour chairman A C Wong told reporters Wednesday.

Wong said the first tournament was held exclusively for golfers from countries grouped in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, but organizers would eventually open the event to participants from outside the 10 ASEAN member countries.

"We will bring in additional players as the competition gets stronger. Although it will be of course within Asian countries," he asserted.

Indonesia Professional Golfers Association (PGPI) chairman Nursalam A Tabusala hoped the tournament could become a stepping-stone for the development of golfers in the region to compete in the higher level Asian Tour.

On the first day of the tournament rookie Lim Eng Seng of Malaysia took charge with a three-under 69.

One shot back was Filipino Marvin Dumandan.

Two Malaysian golfers Danny Chia and S. Sivachandran shared third place at one-under-par 71.

The Tangerang event is the first of five events scheduled by organizers of the tour. After Indonesia, the tour will move to Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam and Singapore.

Each event will offer total prize money of US$30,000.(02)

IMI promises fast track for motorsports talents

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The State Ministry for Youth and Sports Affairs and the Indonesia Motorsports Association (IMI) on Tuesday launched the Indonesia World of Motorsports, a task force to train young and talented drivers to compete internationally.

The task force was established under a decree by the state minister and will be responsible for selecting drivers with potential, especially those with limited financial means, and providing them the necessary assistance to participate in international events.

"We aim to provide a fast track for potential drivers. We are focusing on athletes who are likely to become champions in international events," the task force's chairman, Juliari P. Batubara, said Tuesday.

"There are lots of such athletes but usually it is hard for them to acquire sponsorships and financial support," he said.

Batubara, who also chairs the IMI, said the task force would immediately start identifying talented drivers from all branches of motorsports and help them find sponsors and participate in international events.

"The task force will also decide on priority races or events we will take part in and the human resources needed for those races," said Batubara.

So far, he said, the task force has identified the GP2 and Speed Car series as the most suitable grounds for Indonesian drivers to gain experience and grow.

"There are lots of international events, but we have to choose those which help our drivers gain experience as well as get world ranks," said Batubara.

Earlier, State Minister for Youth and Sports Affairs Adhyaksa Dault said Indonesia would not host the A1 Grand Prix of Nations again after negotiations broke down between the host and the management over the franchise fee.

Adhyaksa said the organizers wanted Indonesia to pay US$6 million in fees, an amount considered too costly. (02)

Indonesia loses to China by whisker

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Minnow Indonesia proved itself to be a team worth reckoning with after pushing three-time Asian champions China to five sets at the Asian Volleyball Championship here on Wednesday.

However, the host missed the chance to stun the Asian heavyweights after dropping the last set to lose 3-2 to the much-taller Chinese volleyballers.

"We lost the first two sets as our players were too nervous," Indonesian assistant coach Mahfud Irsyada said at the post-match press conference.

"Fortunately, they got their confidence back in the third and fourth sets," he said.

China romped to an easy 25-16 win in the first set and then took the second set 25-15.

Playing in front of more than 4,000 vociferous fans, Indonesia caught its stride in the third set and began playing more relaxed.

Indonesia won the third set 25-21 and then evened things up 2-2 by taking the fourth set 25-23.

However, the upset was not to be, as China regained its form and dominated the deciding set 15-10.

"Despite the loss, I am still pleased with the way the team played. The players performed their best. We are just unlucky," Mahfud said.

China's head coach Zhou Jian'an said he was a bit surprised by Indonesia's solid defense.

"I think we are lucky. Indonesia played very well especially at blocking. Even if we broke in to their blocking, their defenders were ready to receive the ball," said Zhou.

He said the shorter Indonesian players used good timing to block the smashes by the taller Chinese. (02)

RI suffer narrow Taiwan defeat

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Indonesia was forced to bow out to Chinese Taipei (Taiwan) in a tough match Tuesday, despite a strong game marked by energetic blocking and smashes by the likes of spiker Muhamad Riviansyah.

"Indonesia played very well. We didn't think we could play five sets with Chinese Taipei. But we made some mistakes, especially when we were at that critical point," Indonesia's head coach assistant Machfud Irsyada said after the match.

"Maybe this was because our players were not confident enough," he added.

Chinese Taipei, which managed to recover to top form after an earlier 3-1 defeat from favorite China, was dominant in the first set thanks to a combination of skills and good blocking, winning the first set 25-17.

In the second set, Indonesia, which enjoyed strong support from the 1,500-odd crowd at the Bung Karno main stadium, worked against the pressure, managing to steal the second set 25-17.

The third set belonged to the much taller Taiwanese, who won the dramatic set by a nail-biting 33-31.

Unperturbed by the setback, Indonesia fought back to even the score 2-2 by winning the fourth set.

But the comeback was short-lived, with exhausted Indonesian players in the final set making several unforced errors that handed the set to the visiting team 18-16. (02)

RI, Oz shine in Asian volleyball matches

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Host Indonesia edged traditional rival Thailand 3-2 on Monday in the round of eight at the Asian Men's Volleyball Championship.

With the support of a boisterous crowd at the Bung Karno main stadium in Senayan, Central Jakarta, Indonesia came storming out in the first set and managed to hold on to take it 25-23.

Thailand set the pace in the second set, which it won 25-22.

The two sides split the next two sets, with Indonesia rolling 25-18 in the third before Thailand evened things up again by taking the fourth set 25-22.

In the fifth and deciding set, Indonesia took charge from the beginning and won the set and the match 15-12.

"The team played very well. Every thing seems to be proceeding as planned. The defense was good. The attack was also quick," said Indonesian assistant coach Machfud Irsyada at the post-match press conference.

Although happy with the result, Machfud said Indonesia's next opponent, Chinese Taipei, would be tougher because the players are taller and the overall team defense better.

Indonesia will meet Chinese Taipei on Tuesday.

Monday was not a good day for defending champion Japan, which fell to Australia 3-2.

Japan, seeking its seventh title at the tournament, looked out of synch as it dropped the first set 25-21.

Japan bounce back and grabbed the second set 25-19 and then extended its lead by taking the third set 25-20.

The Australian players, however, fought back, playing an aggressive brand of volleyball to take the next set 25-20 and even things up at two sets apiece.

In the decisive set, Australia flexed its muscles and dominated with strong blocking. Big serving David Ferguson and spiker Benjamin Hardy helped Australia take the set and the match 15-9.

"We lost a little effectiveness on the outside positions, we had Howard killing the ball but we needed some support from the other guys to also kill the ball and attack," said Australia coach Russel Borgeaud.

"Japan played very well to counter our attacks."

"Japan is a great team and to beat a team like Japan you have to play very well and consistently. We had our ups and downs throughout the game, but there were outstanding efforts by many of our players to turn the match," said Borgeaud.

He said the team was now focused on upcoming matches with South Korea and Iran, which he said would be a test.

Australian captain Benjamin Hardy hailed his team's solid play.

"We were doing a good job, building toward this game," he said.

"Japan is a good team. It was good to have them in the first match and beat them. It's a pretty good day for us," Borgeaud told reporters after the game.

Japan's coach Tatsuya Ueta said Australia played very well, especially with their blocking scheme.

"We had difficulty breaking their blocking," he said.(02)

Monday, September 03, 2007

Classic car lovers in trans-Java rally

Sunday, September 02, 2007

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Hundreds of vintage car fans kicked off a weeklong rally Saturday along the historic 1,000 kilometer road connecting the westernmost and the easternmost parts of Java island.

The rally is to remember the building of the road in 1808. During the construction of the road, it is claimed that at least 30,000 people died of starvation and overwork.

The rally, which runs from Sept. 1 to 8, and is being participated in by 85 vintage cars and more than 250 passengers, will travel along the 2,500 kilometers from Anyer in Banten to Panarukan in East Java.

The 1,000 kilometer road from Anyer to Panarukan, known as "Jalan Raya Pos" (De Groote Postweg), or the Great Post Road, was constructed at the command of Netherlands Indies Governor General Willem Herman Daendles in 1808.

The construction of the road finished in 1810.

"Many people died during the building of the road. They are the heroes who laid the foundations for our development," said the chairman of the Indonesian Vintage Car Association (PPMKI), Bambang Rus Effendi, at the kickoff ceremony at the State Ministry for Youth and Sports Affairs.

"We hope this rally will help us appreciate what our forefathers did for the people of today."

Participating in the rally were cars produced in the 1920s, such as a 1928 Ford A, a 1927 Chevy Truck, a Chevrolet Bel Ai, and a Fiat from the 1950s.

Two cars that belonged to first president Sukarno -- a 1947 Chrysler Windsor and a 1963 Imperial -- also took part in the event. The cars respectively belong to Hartawan Setjodinigrat and Budiono Widodo.

Hartawan, chairman of the rally's organizing committee, said the rally was the 27th to be held since the Indonesian Vintage Car Association had been established in 1979.

The committee had laid on everything regarding accommodation, car service and participants' healthcare.

"We have prepared everything, but have focused mostly on engines as these cars are old," said Hartawan.

Along the rally route, the participants will visit many heritage sites -- legacies of the Netherlands Indies -- including a lighthouse in Anyer that was designated by Daendels as the starting point for the road's construction in 1808.

One of the PPMKI's founders, Solihin GP, who is a former West Java governor said that "We want to teach the nation that we can be proud of old objects. We can travel everywhere around the country so as to enjoy our rich nature and culture."

"We also want to teach the young generation to take risks to achieve their goals so they do not misuse the independence that we have gained with blood," said Solihin, who is also a retired Army general. (02)

Australia outshines India in opener

Saturday, September 01, 2007

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Australia started its campaign in the opener of the Asian Volleyball Championship here by thrashing India 3-1 at Bung Karno Indoor Tennis Stadium in Senayan, Central Jakarta, on Friday.

The 1999 and 2001 silver medalists were stunned by the Indian team, which stole some points to win the first set 25-22.

Led by captain Benjamin Hardy, Australia managed to bounce back to dominate the rest of the game.

"In a couple of sets, we were left behind," Australia's coach Russell Borgeaud said after the match.

"Some of our guys were a little bit nervous ... it was an important match.

"So India kept attacking us."

"But the players survived the attacks to lift their intensity and their level of play to win the next sets."

He said his team needed to improve their performance if they wanted to win the tournament.

"We are inconsistent ... we still have some work to do ... but this is a good start," he said.

India coach G.E. Sridharan said his team played well in the first set but Australia's players managed to penetrate their defense in the following sets.

Sridharan said his team had to play all out in the next game against 1993 finalists Kazakhstan on Saturday to realize their hopes of making the top eight.

"It is not impossible ... we have met them once previously and we won," Sridharan said.

In other opening matches, Taiwan tasted victory by trouncing Qatar 3-1, while 2003 bronze medalists Iran defeated Vietnam 3-1. Later in the day, Kazakhstan outclassed Kuwait 3-0.

On Saturday, Australia is set to meet Kuwait, Kazakhstan would take on India and Iran would face Pakistan.(02)

RI shuttlers skip India, ready for Japan, Taipei

Friday, August 31, 2007

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Indonesia's shuttlers have decided to skip the India Super Series and prepare themselves for their next assignments in Japan and Taiwan, following last week's bomb blasts in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad, the site of the competition.

The head of the training division of the Indonesian Badminton Association (PBSI), Lius Pongoh, said the association had sent a letter to the Badminton Association of India to notify them that the Indonesian squad would not fly to the country for safety reasons.

"We decided to cancel our participation in the tournament due to security concerns. The bomb blasts were very close to the badminton venue," Lius said Thursday.

Last week's double explosions killed at least 42 people and injured 50 in Hyderabad, where the tournament was planned to be held from Sept. 4-9.

Lius added that the chairman of the Indian Badminton Association, VK Verma, had also informed Indonesia of delays to the event, but said no definite revised date had been set.

However, Lius said he was unconvinced the Indian association would end up setting a different date to the one originally planned, since it would place the tournament only days away from the Japan Super Series from Sep. 11-16 and the Chinese Taipei Grand Prix from Sep. 18-23. (02)

Asian Volleyball c'ship to test region's best

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Asian Men's Volleyball Championship will be give Asian teams a chance to turn around their disappointing performances since the 2004 Olympics, the chairwoman of Indonesia's Sport Council (KONI) Rita Subowo says.

"The achievement of Asian countries in volleyball has been on the decline since the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. The men's teams could hardly get through the Olympic qualifications, while a women's team took the world championship," said Rita, who is a newly elected member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), during a press conference Tuesday.

Rita said the IOC had decided to establish a taskforce to help improve the performance of Asian volleyball teams ahead of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China.

The Championship, which will be held in Jakarta from Aug. 31 through Sep. 8, will be the first top-level international volleyball event held in Indonesia.

"In 1989, Indonesia also hosted an international championship but it was only a junior championship," Rita said.

She added that the Indonesian team should use their participation in the championship to gain the playing experience needed to improve their performance.

National team manager I Nyoman Sukesna said he was optimistic the Indonesian team would put up a strong fight at the championship, having prepared since February of this year. He said the team had taken part in national and international events, including the national Proliga championship and the Asian Men's Club Championship in Bahrain.

"We took position six from the 18 teams participating in the men's championship in Bahrain, so I believe that the team is getting more confident about its performance. Our target is a spot in the top six so we can be included in Olympic qualifications," Sukesna said. (02)

Indonesia aims high at Asian men's volleyball tourney

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

With most players' heights well under the average of those competing in the upcoming 14th Asian Senior Men's Volleyball Championship, Indonesia's team will resort to a variety of offensive schemes to balance its opponents' advantage, said the team's assistant coach.

"We are preparing the team to play quick, multiple offensives. The players should receive the ball carefully so others will be able to build sharper assaults," assistant coach Machfud Irsyada told The Jakarta Post on Monday.

Machfud is optimistic the team will be able to maintain their stamina.

The championship, which will use a rally point system, will be held from Aug. 31 to Sept. 9 at the Indoor Tennis Stadium at the Senayan Sports Complex in Central Jakarta.

Teams from 17 Asian countries and Australia will take part in the competition.

The Indonesian host team, together with three other defending champions -- Japan, China and South Korea-- will play in the main draw comprising eight teams. Indonesia will join group A along with the Maldives, Qatar and Taiwan.

Indonesia's players are among those with lowest average height in the competition. Only three countries have an average height below that of Indonesia - Vietnam, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

Australia and Kazakhstan are the countries with the tallest players. Each has nine players with a minimum height of 200 cm. Kazakhstan has two of the tallest players in the competition -Svyatoslav Miklashevich and Anton Yudin, at 210 cm each.

Meanwhile, the women's team will participate in Thailand from Sept. 5 to 13.

The women's assistant coach, Victor Laiyan, said there was no special target for the women's team other than to gain more game-time experience in preparation for the 2011 SEA Games in Indonesia.

Victor said the women's junior team, consisting of eight members, had been sent to Cuba for training in preparation for future competitions. (02)

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Change The World For A Fiver


Three years ago I bought a book called ‘Change The World For A Fiver’. I like the idea inside it. It's a must-have!

The book contains 50 small actions to change the world and 'make you feel good’, and is printed on ‘chlorine-free paper from trees grown in sustainable forests’. We Are What We Do is the Community Links project behind this straightforward but brilliant book (see website bellow).

The actions contained within it are diverse, ranging from Action 46 ‘Use both sides of every piece of paper’ to Action 19 ‘Learn one good joke’. Some of them would appeal to thrifty people, ‘Turn your thermostat down by 1ยบ’ (Action 10), and some actions are very simple ‘Smile, and smile back’ (Action 5).

My favourite action is ‘Reverse Haggling’ (Action 27), where the book advises you to ‘confuse the wonderful people who work in charity shops – pay them more than they bargained for’.I did it several times in England and they thought I'm a stupid Asian.

I have tried and tested some of the ideas in this book, particularly declining plastic bags in shops, watching less TV, and turn off the tap water while brushing my teeth. It is simple but bring a great effect to our world, isn't it?

Hopefully this book will inspire more of us to ‘Give blood’ (Action 26) and to ‘Do something you think you can’t do’ (Action 32), even if being ‘the change you want to see in the world’ (Action 28, thanks to Gandhi) seems a bit daunting.

www.community-links.org

Monday, August 27, 2007

Honda launches new models to regain loss in market share

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Motorcycle producer PT Astra Honda Motor (AHM) will launch three new models with more stylish and sporty features this year to regain its market leadership, which has dropped significantly since January amid growing competition from its main competitor, Yamaha.

AHM, which has been the motorcycle market leader in Indonesia for many years, launched one of the new models Friday, promising more affordability and reliability to Indonesian motorcycle fans.

The Honda Fit X bebek model, which has a 100cc four-stroke engine and a price tag of Rp 10.5 million (about US$1,129) off the road, is now available in Jakarta.

Dubbed "economical, reliable and functional", the Honda Fit X and two upcoming products -- a sporty motorcycle and an automatic scooter -- are expected to increase the company's sales by 20 percent this year, AHM marketing director Johannes Loman said at the launching ceremony.

He said the company hoped to sell between 2.2 million and 2.4 million motorcycles this year. "We are still looking to be number one in Indonesia," said Johannes.

With the expected increase in sales, AHM is currently increasing its production capacity so as to be able to produce about 200,000 motorcycles a month beginning September, he said.

AHM, which has led the country's motorcycle market for many years with a market share of about 55 percent, has seen its market share decline since January this year amid an aggressive marketing campaign by its main rival, Yamaha.

Honda's monthly market share fell to between 42 and 45 percent in the first semester of this year from an average of more than 53 percent last year.

By contrast, Yamaha's monthly sales continued to increase in the first six months of this year. In July, its sales amounted to 161,016 motorcycles, far higher than the 131,615 motorcycles it sold in the same month last year. Meanwhile, Honda's monthly sales fell to 143,223 in July from 186,047 in the same month last year.

In the first semester of this year, national motorcycle sales amounted to 2.11 million, with AHM controlling 43 percent of the market, Yamaha 41 percent and Suzuki and other producers the remaining 16 percent. Last year total motorcycle sales amounted to 4.42 million units.

Japanese motorcycles still dominate Indonesia's motorcycle market. Chinese-made motorcycles have tried to make inroads into the market over the last five years, but with little success.

However, the entry of TVS Motor, the leading two-wheel manufacturer in India, will make the competition even tighter,

The company's Indonesian unit TVS Motor Company Indonesia has recently launched its Neo and Apache motorcycle brands in the country.

TVS Motor chairman Venu Srinivasan said recently that he was upbeat the company's Indonesian unit would be able sell up to 100,000 units in its first year of operations, despite the strong competition from more established manufacturers in the country.

In order to meet this sales target, the company specially designed its two new small-engine capacity models to satisfy the unique characteristics of Indonesian buyers, he said.

The motorcycles will be sold at prices ranging from Rp 9 million to Rp 11.8 million, off the road (excluding tax). As an initial step, the motorcycles will be available in Jakarta and West Java. (02)

Industry minister backs Kadin's initiative in logging dispute

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Industry Minister Fahmi Idris has lent his support to the initiative by the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) to ask President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to resolve an embarrassing dispute over logging between the National Police and the Forestry Ministry.

Speaking Thursday during a press conference at the Industry Ministry, Fahmi said that all of the stakeholders in the pulp and paper industry would meet soon to resolve the dispute in order to provide a healthy business climate for the industry without undermining the legal process.

"The government and Kadin share the same concern about the pulp and paper industry. Therefore, we will invite all stakeholders to look for a solution in the next few weeks," said Fahmi.

As part of the fight against illegal logging, the National Police have been conducting a series of operations, labeled overeager by the industry, that have resulted in the halting of the operations of many pulp and paper firms and their suppliers in Riau province. As a result, the country's two biggest pulp and paper companies, PT Indah Kiat Pulp & Paper and PT Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper, are faced with a serious shortage of raw materials.

Fahmi said that while the ministry supported the implementation of Presidential Decree No. 4/2005 on the eradication of illegal logging, he was concerned about the investment climate in the forestry industry, which is one of the five industries that contribute the most to the country's exports.

"The implementation of the decree has disrupted the pulp and paper industry, and has led to a decrease in production volume. Therefore, we are impartially trying to find a solution. While we support the war against illegal logging, we also need to protect industries that provide our exports," said Fahmi.

The value of pulp and paper exports in 2006 amounted to about US$3.5 billion out of $8 billion for the entire forestry sector.

The pulp and paper industry employs some 249,000 people in 14 pulp and paper factories in Riau, South Sulawesi, North Sumatra, Jambi, East Kalimantan and Aceh.

Kadin chairman MS Hidayat, who accompanied the minister at the conference, said that the dispute between the National Police and the Forestry Ministry, which has been going on for eight months, could cost the two companies as much as US$2 billion due to the decline in production.

He said that Kadin supported law enforcement, but also pointed to confusion between illegal logging and legal logging.

"Some companies that have legal permission from the state for logging have become the target of arbitrary police actions. Police cordon off their equipment, concessions and processing facilities without sufficient evidence," argued Hidayat.

He warned that if the dispute continued, the two companies would be out of raw materials by October, and might have to resort to massive layoffs.

He added that the dispute showed there was still no legal certainty in Indonesia -- something that had serious implications for the investment climate. (02)

Indosat boosts capital expenditure to $1.2b

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

PT Indosat, the country's second largest mobile phone operator, will increase its capital expenditure this year to US$1.2 billion from $1 billion as initially planned to further expand its networks and improve the quality of its services.

Indosat president director Johnny Swandi Sjam said Wednesday around 15 to 20 percent of the capital expenditure would be used to expand cellular networks, including the building of new base transceiver stations (BTS), while the remaining would be used to improve services.

As of June this year, the company had built 8,366 BTS, or a 33.9 percent increase from the 6,248 BTS in June last year.

Indosat finance director Wong Heang Tuck said about $300 million of the $1.2 billion capital expenditure would come from the company's own fund and the remaining $700 million from bank loans and the issuing of bonds.

"The company still needs around $200 to 300 million from other sources," Wong said.

Sjam said increasing capital expenditure for capacity expansion was needed because the number of Indosat's cellular subscribers had already increased by 44.3 percent to 20 million as of June from 13.9 million in the same month last year, while the number of its fixed wireless subscribers surged by 132.3 percent to 483,400 from 208,100.

He said the first semester showed a good record in consumer growth, so the company changed the new subscriber target number for this year to seven million from six million as initially planned.

The sharp increase in the number of subscribers resulted in a 33.3 percent increase in the company's total revenue to Rp 7.69 trillion (about US$826.8 million) in the first half of 2007 from Rp 5.76 trillion in the same period last year.

"Indosat's success in the first half of 2007 is attributed to the growing demand for cellular, fixed-voice and fixed-data services," Sjam said in a press briefing.

He explained that cellular operating revenues grew by 37.4 percent to Rp 5.89 trillion in the first half of 2007 from Rp 4.30 trillion in the same period last year.

Meanwhile, fixed-data service revenues grew by 9.9 percent to Rp 1.01 trillion in the first half of 2007 from Rp 927.3 billion due to increasing demand of wholesale and corporate consumers to rented internet circuit, internet protocol virtual private network (IPVPN) and internet services.

Fixed-voice service revenue grew by 41.1 percent to Rp 774.4 billion from Rp 548.9 billion in the same period last year and was driven by an increased demand for international calling and fixed wireless services.

The cellular business contributes 77 percent to the company's total revenue, while its fixed-voice and data services contribute around 10 and 13 percent respectively.

Sjam said the company's operational spending increased by 34.8 percent to Rp 5.66 trillion in the first half from Rp 4.19 trillion in the same period in 2006. Therefore, its operational profit increased by 29.4 percent to Rp 2.03 trillion from Rp 1.56 trillion, while its net profit soared by 54 percent to Rp 845.1 billion from Rp 548.8 billion. (02)

Bank Niaga signs mortgage agreement

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

PT Bank Niaga signed a memorandum of understanding on apartment mortgages Friday with property developer PT Asiana Lintas Ciptakemang, which is currently building apartments in Kemang, South Jakarta.

Under the agreement, buyers of PT Asiana's apartments will be able to get loans from the bank with an interest rate of 9.9 percent a year.

Bank Niaga's head of mortgage banking Laksmi Mustikaningrat said that with the agreement, the apartment buyers would be able to process their loans much faster than under the normal procedure.(02)

Monday, August 20, 2007

Doulton resumes expansion project

Monday, August 20, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

British-based ceramic tile manufacturer PT Doulton Indonesia will go ahead with its US$30 million investment at its ceramic tile factory in Tangerang, Banten, after the government confirmed the project would get a gas supply.

"Thanks to Industry Minister Fahmi Idris for his support in allowing us to resolve the gas supply problem for our factory. We are very happy with the situation and will continue to invest in Indonesia," Narinder Arora, the president director of PT Doulton Indonesia told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

The Royal Doulton Company through PT Doulton Indonesia, which has so far invested US$75 million in its Indonesian ceramic venture, had planned to increase its investment by US$30 million this year, but the plan was delayed due to a lack of gas.

Beny Wahjudi, the director general of agro-chemistry industries at the Industry Ministry, said that the shortage of gas to the ceramic industry had persisted since last year due to the delay in the building of a gas pipeline from Pagar Dewa in South Sumatra and Grissik in Jambi to Tangerang and Bekasi, both in West Java.

With the increase in the gas supply, PT Doulton Indonesia will be able to double its production capacity from the existing eight million ceramic tiles a year to 16 million.

To feed this capacity, the company will need an additional 85,000 cubic meter of gas per month. To date, the company has needed 630,000 cubic meter of gas per month.

PT Doulton Indonesia has operated its plant in Balaraja, Tangerang, since 1996. About 98 percent of the company's products are exported. In 2006, exports totaled $20.1 million, a slight rise from the $17.7 million recorded the previous year.

In December 2006, the company finished the first stage of its expansion by raising production from 5 million tiles to eight million, at a total investment of $2 million.

The company now plans to increase the number of its workers from 1,350 at present to about 2,000.

Earlier in the day, Narinder accompanied by Achmad Widjaya, chairman of the Indonesian Ceramic Industries Association (Asaki), met Industry Minister Fahmi Idris to thank the minister for his help in overcoming the gas supply shortage that has been badly affecting the industry over the past several months.

Achmad said Asaki members appreciated the efforts made by the minister to increase the gas supply so that some 20 ceramic tile manufacturers in Tangerang and Serang could resume production.

However, he also asked the government to pay special attention to the problem of gas transmission quality. "We are not talking about the supply only, but we are also talking about the pressure of the gas supply," he told the Post.

He said that the gas pressure needed by the ceramic industry was two bar at the minimum. However, since the end of 2005, many ceramic producers in West Java had been receiving a pressure of only gas one bar. The gas supply was also unreliable, he said.

Indonesia is now the world's fifth-biggest ceramic tile producer.(02)

Air cargo industry faces problems

Saturday, August 18, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

A lack of regulations and airport facilities has made Indonesia's air cargo industry virtually stagnant during the past several years, as investors are reluctant to enter the business, says an executive.

Chris Kanter, spokesman for the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin), said Wednesday legal uncertainty and poor airport facilities had contributed to slow growth in the industry.

Speaking at a seminar on the modernization of Indonesia's air cargo services, Kanter said it would be difficult under current conditions for local air cargo companies to expand their business, especially to untapped markets in eastern Indonesia.

"Until now, limited regulations have been imposed on air and sea cargo services. We need to formulate a law on cargo service in order to control service standards and quality," Kanter said.

He also said facilities and financial support from the government, as well as the use of the latest technology, were also important for growth in the air cargo industry.

Indonesia's air cargo services are still dominated by foreign express companies such as Fedex and Polar Air Cargo and foreign airlines such as China Airlines, Eva Air, Korean Airlines, Malaysian Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Qatar Airways.

Local air cargo service providers such as PT Republic Express, PT Cardig Air and PT Tri MG face difficulties in expanding their business due to legal issues and the poor conditions found at airport terminals.

Hemi Pamuraharjo, deputy director for domestic flight services at the Ministry of Transportation, acknowledged there were no specific regulations for cargo services in Indonesia.

Hemi said the only regulation the country has is a colonial Dutch regulation, Staatblad 139, which only outlines the responsibilities of cargo flight carriers but mentions nothing about the system of cargo transportation.

President director of RPX Airlines Iwan Tirtawidjaja said within the last decade air cargo volume had steadily decreased, especially at airports in the eastern part of the country.

According to data from the Ministry of Transportation, a slight increase occurred only in the country's main airports; Soekarno-Hatta in Jakarta, Juanda in Surabaya and Hasanuddin in Makassar.

Data from state-owned airport operator PT Angkasa Pura II indicates cargo volume in Soekarno-Hatta Airport reached more than 370,000 tons in 2006, with an average annual growth of 5 percent since 2000. (02)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The BIG MAN who started from small things





Everyone should be able to do business: Nobel Prize winner


Nobel Peace Prize winner and founder of the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh Muhammad Yunus was recently invited to visit Indonesia by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. The Jakarta Post's Abdul Khalik, Veeramalla Anjaiah and Matheos Messakh caught up with Yunus before his departure Sunday. Below are excerpts from their discussion:

Question: Your profile is very unique, changing your career path from being a professor to a banker. What inspired this change?

Answer: The reason was we were experiencing famine in Bangladesh ... when I was teaching at one of the universities. So I saw how useless the theories that I taught were. I taught economic theories while people were dying.

So I went to the villages to see if I could be useful to anybody there. Then I tried to give loans to people who borrowed from money lenders based on trust. Nobody (else) would give money like that. So, I wanted to arrange a system with the banks. But after months of roaming around the banks, they couldn't open the door. So I offered myself as a guarantor. I said "I will sign your papers, your rules are protected and I will get the money". That finally worked. So I signed all the papers, took the money and gave it to the people.

And I took the responsibility of collecting it and taking it back to the bank. It worked. So that was the beginning of the whole thing.

What was the purpose of your visit to Indonesia? What is your opinion about micro-credit and micro-finance in Indonesia?

Well, I was invited by the President to give a presidential lecture. That was the main reason, and since I was coming (anyway), the Bank of Indonesia also invited me to give a presentation to bankers.

I came here (for the first time) some 12 years back. This is my fourth visit. I can see a lot of changes. Banks here have been doing micro-finance for a long time. They are doing well and there are lots of organizations, but still each one of them is small and sticking ... to government formalities. They (haven't) opened up in a big way. There are still lots of people in Indonesia who should be reached with financial services.

Do you think the kind of system you used in Bangladesh would work in a country like Indonesia?

The basic issue is that everybody should have the right to (access) financial services. Nobody should be denied on the (basis) that they are too poor to do business. The second issue is that you have money lenders in the country. I'm sure that there are money lenders in Indonesia.

I met with 27 groups who are doing micro-credit in Indonesia. Some are lending money to five thousand borrowers, some are (lending to) 10 thousand borrowers and some are (lending to) 70 thousand borrowers.

These are all NGOs. The common question I asked was, "what is holding you back? Why have you stuck with that number?" They said "we have no money". It is because the law here doesn't allow NGOs to take deposits. Why can't we either organize a common fund or a wholesale fund, where any NGO can borrow money and lend it?

We have done it in Bangladesh. That's why micro-credit could spread. The next solution is to enable those NGOs to take deposits. Just create a law and call them micro-credit banks. Then create an independent regulatory body. When dealing with money, particularly public deposits, you need an independent regulatory body to avoid misuse.

BRI (Bank Rakyat Indonesia) has been offering credits to small-scale enterprises in Indonesia. How can they make a bigger impact on society?

In general, governments and micro-credit have bad chemistry. Because after all, the government is a political entity, and (it) is supposed to deal with poor people. But politics becomes (more) important than other aspects, including the economic side. And when people don't pay back (money), politicians don't push them too hard. After all, they are poor people.

An organization which works (at a) distance from the government can work much better than an organization close to the government. BRI, being a government organization, (has) this problem, not that they are bad people or inefficient people. Simply this closeness creates problems. And also, the government has to go through certain bureaucratic procedures which may not be appropriate for credit expansion to poor people.

Why do you believe so much in the poor?

The basic idea is that I believe that all human beings are born with unlimited potential, whether a child is born on the street or born in a palace. Poverty doesn't come with a person. It is created by the system that we created. So why don't we go back to the system to fix it up? Then nobody will be poor. That's my point.

We give opportunities to beggars and lend them money. We tell them that if they go from house to house, can they carry something to sell, some candies, some sweets, some toys, whatever they can sell. And (they) give people the option of whether they want to give (them) rice or they want to buy something.

We give them the money to expand (their business). The typical size of such a loan is about $12. With $12 she or he becomes a salesperson. Many of them are now quitting ... begging and have become sales people because everybody supported them.

During your visit did you explore opportunities for cooperation with Indonesian banks or institutions?

Not in a specific (sense) but definitely I'm sure this will bring us closer. The government themselves are pretty much interested. We discussed a lot about what steps need to be taken. This should not be stopped here. And the role of the media is to make sure this will not stop here.

The advantage of micro-credit is that it doesn't need the government all the time. It is civil society which needs to get it done. The government has to perform the role of creating an enabling environment. The law has to be fixed. Instead of pushing the government to do everything, we can just ask them to create an enabling environment and (then) leave it to the people.

Then, the provincial government can pick it up, the district government can pick it up, because you can make it as small as you want.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

LG launches new, cheap, 3G handset


The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

South Korea-based mobile phone manufacturer LG Mobile Communications Indonesia (LGMCI) launched Tuesday a new 3G mobile phone in Indonesia, which it says is the cheapest mobile phone in its class.

Vice president of LG Electronics Bo Hoo Choi said Tuesday that with its more affordable price, the new LG KU250 handset was expected to narrow the gap between 2G and 3G handsets.

"We are aiming at first-time buyers of 3G handsets. We want to expand the market by bringing the entry level down so that people can start using 3G phones right away. We help them move from 2G to 3G technology," Bo told The Jakarta Post.

"When we use a 3G phone, there are two kind of benefits. One is video transmission and the other one is data transmission. That is why we developed this model targeting the younger generation and business people," he added.

The LG KU250 handset is the winner of a tender called "3G for All" held by GSM Associations in Barcelona in February to provide a good quality 3G mobile phone at affordable price.

Among 19 models proposed by eight vendors for the tender, LG KU250 was chosen as the winner by a jury of 12 GSM operators. The eight criteria for selection were functionality, usability, logistics, market acceptance, price, service and support, strategic commitment and form.

The 12 GSM operators that selected the winning handset, were Cingular Wireless, Globe Telecom, Hutchison 3G, KTF, MTN, Orange, Smart, Telecom Italia, Telefonica, Telenor, T-Mobile and Vodafone. These operators are now introducing this model in their respective networks.

Bo was optimistic that LG would be able to sell 10 million new handsets worldwide a year, but he was reluctant to predict Indonesian sales.

The phone is equipped with GPRS facilities, 10MB shared memory and external micro SD card slot, bluetooth and USB as well as a 1.3MP camera and a VGA camera for video calling.

He claimed that the handset, which is now available at Rp 1.4 million (about US$160), is the cheapest in its class.

"The prices of most of 3G phones in the country are above Rp 2 million. Only some old products are bellow that level. So in terms of price and value, I don't think there is any competitor for us," said Andre Tanudjaja, sales and marketing general manager of LG Electronics Indonesia.

Andre said that by June the average demand for 3G handsets in the country had reached 13 percent of the total demand for mobile phones, far higher than 6 percent last year.

Indonesia's annual total mobile phone sales reaches around 15 million.

He said that the average was likely to increase to 15 to 17 percent by the end of the year and that LGMCI was aiming to secure a share of 10 to 15 percent of the 3G market in the country. (02)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

RI needs microcredit regulator

Friday, August 10, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Indonesia needs to establish an independent regulatory body to govern and supervise its microcredit sector if it is to grow in line with its potential, Nobel laureate and microcredit pioneer Muhammad Yunus said Thursday.

Speaking before members of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin), Yunus said an independent body for the microcredit sector was very important due to the specific and unique nature of the business.

"Rather than leave it to the central bank, it should instead be done by an independent regulatory body created for microcredit. It can't be just pushed into one of the corners of the central bank," said Yunus.

He said he had always promoted the idea of an independent regulatory authority, but it took decades for the Bangladeshi government to eventually agree to the establishment of such a body.

"As a bank, the Grameen Bank was regulated by the central bank, but it was not a very happy experience because we (central bank and microcredit providers) speak different languages," said Yunus who founded the Grameen Bank in 1983.

He said the ultimate solution for the microcredit sector was legal reform that would allow any financial-sector organization to become a microcredit provider.

When asked why Indonesia's microcredit experience had not been so successful, Yunus said the microcredit sector in any country should keep itself as far away as possible from the government.

He said that preventing the government from getting involved in the microcredit banking sector had been a continuous struggle for him since he first became involved in microcredit in 1976, especially in the 1990s when the microcredit concept in Bangladesh became very popular.

"The more the government is involved, the messier the business. We always make it very clear to the government that microcredit and the government is bad chemistry."

"We always told them to stay away from it, help us in the policy-making field, don't give us money directly," he said, adding that what the government could do was provide a revolving fund to provide start-up capital that would later be managed and used by the sector.

Also, he said, in order to secure more money for microcredit, all financial institutions should be allowed to create deposits for extending loans to the poor.

Grameen Bank had arranged a core deposit derived in part from the World Bank and the Bangladeshi government.

"The government's money has been paid back, the World Bank's money is about to be paid back. But the bank still has a lot of money on its own. So now, they lend the money out and recycle the money themselves," Yunus told the meeting. (02)

Pusri plans to build fertilizer plant in Mideast or N. Africa

Thursday, August 09, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

PT Pupuk Sriwadjaya (Pusri), a holding company of state-owned fertilizer manufacturers, plans to build a plant in the Middle East or in North Africa to cope with Indonesia's increasing demand for non-urea fertilizers.

Pusri president director Dadang Heru Kodri said here Tuesday that Pusri was exploring the possibility of constructing a factory in Iran, Jordan, Morocco or Egypt.

PT Petrokimia Gresik, a Pusri subsidiary that produces non-urea fertilizers, had sent representatives to those countries to explore the possibilities, said Dadang.

He said the plan to build a factory in the Middle East or North Africa was the result of difficulties in procuring raw materials for the production of SP 36 fertilizers (super phosphate with 36 percent phosphorous pentoxide).

SP 36 fertilizer is made from three main raw materials -- phosphate, gas and potassium -- with the first of these being in short supply in Indonesia, said Dadang.

"Indonesia usually imports phosphate from China but recently China seems reluctant to export phosphate to Indonesia, while the price on the international market is getting higher," said Dadang.

Besides China, Indonesia also relies on countries in the Middle East for the raw materials for SP 36 fertilizer.

Pusri said that the total cost of the construction of the plant could reach Rp 2 trillion (about US$219.7 million). As the holding company of the state-owned fertilizer producers, it has submitted proposals for the financing of the construction of the plant to the Ministry for State-owned Enterprises.

Currently, PT Petrokimia Gresik is the only state enterprise that produces SP-36 fertilizer, and has a capacity of 800,000 tons per year, far below the domestic demand of 2.4 million tons per year.

Chairman of the Farmers' and Fishermen's Contact Group, Winarno Tohir, said the plan to build the fertilizer plant would solve the problem caused by the lack of SP 36 fertilizer.

At present, many farmers use other fertilizers, such as NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium), and organic fertilizers, due to the lack of SP 36 fertilizer.(02)

Monday, August 13, 2007

Government and microcredit is a bad chemistry:Muhammad Yunus


Matheos Viktor Messakh/Jakarta

Nobel laureate and microcredit pioneer Muhammad Yunus said Friday that governments should stay away from directly lending microcredits to the poor and better provide good environment for microfinance banking through legal reform.

Speaking at a public discussion at the Ministry of Agriculture, Yunus said that it was a bad idea for governments to get directly involved in lending microcredits to the people.

"The position I again and again promote is that government and microfinance don't work well. It is a bad chemistry. A government basically is a political entity and political entities should not be trusted with the task of lending, particularly lending to the poor," said Yunus who was applauded by the audience.

"The moment the government starts lending to the poor, the political reaction begins: why are you charging interest to the poor people, you can't charge people. After all, you are government," he added.

He said that two conditions were absolutely needed for the development of microfinance in Indonesia. First is funding arrangement, either by allowing microfinance banks and NGOs to take deposits or by creating a wholesale fund.

"This is a fund where a government puts money and that has independent management. So that this fund can lend money to NGOs or microfinance institutions that in turn lend money to the poor. That's much safer, rather than the government running a
microfinance program by itself. Whenever the government tries to do that, it becomes a total mess," said Yunus.

The second condition, said Yunus, was that the government conducted a legal reform to allows the creation of microcredit banks.

"With this law people can specialize in microfinance banking, lending money to the poor without collateral, without guarantee, without any legal instrument, so that people can do things on their own to move up, making income better, as quickly as possible," he said.

Yunus said that several attempts on microfinance had been made in Indonesia for several years but were stuck due lack of fund from the government.

"They got stuck because financing is not available to them. A very simple solution is to create wholesale fund to lend money to microfinance organizations to lend money to the poor. It can be resolved. In Bangladesh we have done it. As a result,
microfinance flourished all over the country. That one step would help a lot," said Yunus.

"People have proved that it can be done, and it is done it very well. Anyone can go and just visit them and find out. So is not a question of whether it can't be done or it can be done. It can be done, it has been demonstrated," he added.

Yunus said that one of the key success of the Grameen Bank was institutional design.

"The institutional design should be right. If we design it right, it works. We make it very independent, we could defy everybody and carry on," said Yunus.

Focusing on the poor and women was also very important to keep the business in its track, said Yunus.

"Go to the poor as far as possible. If you mix up the poor and non-poor, soon you will see that you are not doing microfinance that you are supposed to do. You get into another kind of thing. Focusing on women is also very important. It is so much worth for their families." said Yunus.

Taking savings from the borrowers would create financial strength for the microcredit lenders, said Yunus adding that today 56 percent of deposits of Grameen Bank came from the borrowers themselves.

"They are not only borrowers, but they also save in the bank. That's become important to the bank. This provides a financial strength, and it has to be sustainable. Never shifted from the focus, in order to be sustainable and profit making. We make profit and the profit goes back to the borrowers, because they
own the bank," he said.(02)

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Darma Henwa expects to raise $200 million from share offering

Friday, August 03, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Coal mining contractor PT Darma Henwa plans to sell 3.15 billion new shares during the company's initial public offering (IPO) in early September, a senior company executive says.

Speaking during a public briefing Thursday, Darma Henwa's president director Hamdan Handoko said that the shares, accounting for about 30 percent of its enlarged stock, would be offered to the public from Aug. 28 through 30 at a price range of between Rp 290 and Rp 375 per share

"We expect to raise about US$200 million from the public offering," he said, adding that the shares would be listed on the Jakarta Stock Exchange (JSX) on Sept. 6.

PT Danatama Makmur Investment Bank has been chosen as the lead underwriter.

Hamdan said that the company would use 60 percent of the IPO proceeds to finance the capital expenditure on the development of its Bengalon's project, 50 percent to finance its capital expenditure on the Asam Asam project and the remainder to strengthen its working capital.

Chief commissioner Rini M. Soemarmo said the company had recently signed contracts worth $4.75 billion with PT Kaltim Prima Coal (KPC) and PT Arutmin Indonesia for mining work in Bengalon, East Kalimantan, and Asam Asam in South Kalimantan, respectively.

PT Darma Henwa was established in 1991 and marked its debut with a $100 million contract with BHP Minerals for a project in Petangis, South Kalimantan. The company is 85 percent owned by Zurich Assets International Ltd. and 5 percent by PT Indotambang Perkasa.

With its established track record of working with some of the largest mining firms in the world, such as BHP Billiton, INCO, Rio Tinto, Newmont and Freeport, and its participation in the government's "10,000 Megawatts" project, as well as current high coal prices, Steffen Fang, the vice president of Danatama Makmur said he believed that Darma Henwa's IPO would be attractive to both local and foreign investors.

In the first semester of this year, the company's revenues and net income reached $109 million and $2.5 million, respectively. The company expects to book total revenue of $252 million this year, with net profit amounting to $8.5 million.

Hamdan said that revenue was projected to increase to $317 million in 2008 and $335 million in 2009, while net profit was expected to reach $24 million next year and $44 million in 2009. (02)

India and Indonesia promote SME links

Thursday, August 02, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

To boost bilateral trade between Indonesia and India, the World Trade Center (WTC) Jakarta is holding an exhibition displaying export-quality products from Indonesia's small and medium enterprises (SME), with the focus being on the Indian market.

The three-day exhibition, titled Indian-Indonesian Trade Fiesta 2007, gathers together exporters, traders and businesspeople from both countries with a view to seeking opportunities for cooperation.

Indian Ambassador to Indonesia Navrekha Sharma said that the event would provide a great boost to the two countries' goal of achieving bilateral trade worth US$10 billion by 2010. This goal was agreed on by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during the former's visit to India in 2005.

"There has been impressive growth in bilateral trade. The total trade between India and Indonesia in 2004 was $3.2 billion, and it rose to $4.798 billion in 2006, which was a jump of 22 percent over the previous year," Sharma said during the opening ceremony for the exhibition Wednesday.

She said that in 2006, India's exports to Indonesia reached $1.4 billion, and Indonesia's exports to India $3.39 billion, with the balance of trade being in favor of Indonesia.

The ambassador said he saw great potential for an SME partnership between India and Indonesia as people to people contacts were increasing and there were major potentials in the fields of tourism, handicrafts, gems and jewelry, furniture, leather goods, cosmetics and textiles.

"With a middle class of more than 300 million, India is a market waiting to be tapped by Indonesian entrepreneurs, who should be eager to sell many value-added products to Indian consumers," said Sharma.

However, she said that there needed to be an appreciable shift in the trade pattern, which remained heavily reliant on raw and unprocessed materials from Indonesia, if the two countries wanted to put their trade on a sustainable path in the long term.

"Garuda Airlines should be more aggressive about exploiting the growing Indian tourist market, which sends millions of tourists to Southeast Asia every year. We send about 400,000 tourists to Malaysia each year, why not to Indonesia, a much bigger country?" asked Sharma.

Besides displaying products such as garments, fashion, leather goods, herbal products, handicrafts and furniture, the event, which is sponsored by global freight forwarder Damco, will also feature seminars on trade and tourism issues, and a short course on how to become an exporter.(02)

BNI sale marks RI's biggest offering

Wednesday, August 01, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Bank Negara Indonesia (BNI) and its controlling stakeholder, the government, have raised Rp 8.1 trillion (some US$885 million) selling 3,95 billion shares in the country's third largest bank via a secondary offering.

The sale, which reduces the government's stake in the bank to 73.3 percent from 99.1 percent, marks the country's biggest stock sale by value.

The government sold its shares in the bank at Rp 2,050 per share, State Minister for State Enterprises Sofyan Djalil told a press conference Tuesday. It had targeted a price range of Rp 2,050 and Rp 2,700 per share.

"We had a good response from investors although there was some disturbance in the market. But, it could be better. If only we had privatized BNI a week ago, the price of the shares would have been higher.

"In theory, we said that the timing was very good but the subprime mortgage situation in the U.S. has affected market appetite," Sofyan said, referring to the recent global market turmoil triggered by a Wall Street selloff.

Still, Sofyan said the stock offering, which attracted investors from Asia, the U.S. and Europe, was successful under the circumstances -- something he said reflected investor confidence in the country's economy, banking sector and BNI's prospects.

"By way of comparison, I think the buyer composition is 50:50 as between local and foreign investors."

The sale, arranged by Bahana Securities and JP Morgan, also raised the level of retail shareholding in BNI from less than 1 percent to 26.7 percent.

Of the total proceeds of this year's first divestment, around half would go into the state coffers, Sofyan said, with the rest being used to strengthen BNI's capital structure.

"The government and BNI will each get their share of the money," he explained.

The government has been selling its stakes in state-owned firms and companies it took over during the financial crisis to help plug the annual budget deficit.

Meanwhile, Bahana president director Ito Warsito acknowledged that the global market turmoil recently had affected the outcome of the BNI sale.

"Since last week, the international markets have fallen by 6 percent on average, and this definitely affected both domestic and foreign investors.

"It is not easy to offer as much as this. Some companies such as Chrysler and some other companies in Germany had to downsize their prices," he said.

BNI's shares plunged Rp 200, or 7.5 percent, to close Tuesday at Rp 2,475. (02)

PLN signs power project contracts

Wednesday, August 08, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

After three months of delays due to a lack of government guarantees for the investors, state-owned electricity company PLN finally signed Tuesday contracts with three Chinese consortiums for the construction of three coal-fired power plants.

The signing of the contracts followed Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati's assurance Monday that the government would fully guarantee the financing of PLN's crash program to provide additional 10,000 megawatts (MW) of power by the end of 2009.

Speaking to reporters after the signing ceremony, Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro said the signing of the contracts meant that 60 percent of the contracts for the the construction of power plants to be built under the crash program had been concluded.

He said that the remaing 40 percent of contracts, mostly for the construction of power plants outside Java, would be signed in September this year.

Under Tuesday's contracts, a Chinese consortium of Shanghai Electric Corp Ltd and Dalle Energy will construct a 945 MW coal-fired power plant in Teluk Naga, Banten, at a cost of US$547.4 million in foreign exchange and Rp 1.89 trillion in local currency (about $207.6 million).

A consortium of Dongfang Electric Corp and Dalle Energy will build a 630 MW coal-fired power plant in Pacitan, East Java at $344.9 million and Rp 1.23 trillion, while a consortium of Shanghai Electric Corp Ltd and Maxima Infrastructure will establish a 1,050 MW coal-fired power plant in Pelabuhan Ratu at $566.9 million and Rp 2,205 trillion, West Java.

In March, PLN signed contracts for five coal-fired power plants, all in Java, with a total capacity of 3,300 MW.

Purnomo said the operation of the new coal-fired power plants would significantly reduce the government subsidy for electricity utilization, reduce dependence on oil-based-fuel and increase the country's electrification rate, which now stood at 56 percent.

"We still have approximately 30 months to finish the crash program. If we can complete it by the end of 2009 it would be an extraordinary effort," he said.

"With 10,000 MW from the crash program, plus 10,000 MW more from independent power producers and also some more from private companies, I believe that in five or six years we can double what we did during the past 62 years of our independence."

Currently, PLN has a total installed capacity of 24,417 MW, or 85.5 percent of the total national power generating capacity. The remainder is provided by independent power producers (3,450 MW), and privately owned companies operating power plants for their own industrial activities (746 MW).

Beside the contracts with the three consortiums, PLN also signed on Tuesday a letter of intent with China National Machinery Industry Corporation (Sinomach), for the construction of Tanjung Awar Awar plant and several long-term contracts with coal miners to supply a total of 5.5 million tons of low-rank coal per year.

A consortium of PT Kasih Industri Indonesia and PT Senamas Energindo Mulia will supply 1.4 million tons of coal per year for Teluk Naga plant, a while consortium of PT Arutmin Indonesia and PT Darma Henwa will provide the plant with 858,000 tons of coal per year.

A consortium of PT Arutmin Indonesia and PT Darma Henwa will provide the Pacitan plant with 950,000 tons per year while PT Titan Mining Energy and PT Bara Mutiara Prima will provide Pelabuhan Ratu plant with 1.4 million and 858,000 tons of coal per year, respectively .

"The government is concerned about the long chain of supply of coal from mining sites to plants. Don't let it happen that when construction is finished, the coal supply is not yet ready," Yusgiantoro told the investors.(02)

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Sampah

BRI voted country's best bank due to its role in local banking

Saturday, July 28, 2007
PT Bank Rakyat Indonesia (BRI) and four other Indonesian financial institutions have been voted the best financial institutions in the country in the latest evaluation by Alpha South East Asia, an investment magazine based in Hong Kong.

Besides BRI, which was named best bank, the other three are PT Bank Mandiri, Mandiri Sekuritas and PT Danareksa Sekuritas.

Mandiri was named Best Cash Management House and Best Trade Finance House, Mandiri Sekuritas named Best Bond House, and Danareksa named Best Investment Bank, Best Equity House and Best Broker.

"This award is the first of its kind in Asia, uniquely recognizing the achievements and capabilities of locally incorporated banks and brokerages in South East Asia," said Siddiq Bazarwala, CEO of Alpha South East Asia, during the presentation of the awards Thursday evening.

In its special awards issue, the magazine describes BRI as the best bank due to its role in local banking and its ability to generate substantial return for its shareholders.

Alpha reported that BRI was one of the few banks in Asia that could maintain an NPL rate of less than 5 percent, operate on a high net interest margin of over 11 percent, and generate a return on assets of 4.36 percent and a 33.75 percent return on equity.

"No other bank in Southeast Asia enjoys as large a net interest margin as BRI does. With its banking reach the widest among Indonesian banks, BRI is a model for banking in Indonesia."

A total of 35 awards were announced after the credentials of 128 financial institutions, banks and brokerages from Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines were reviewed. (02)

Tanners urge ban on raw leather exports to support shoe industry

Friday, July 27, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The government should completely ban the export of raw leather rather than just imposing a high export duty in order to prevent a shortage on the domestic market and to increase the utilization of local materials by the domestic footwear industry, says an association representing the country's tanners.

Indonesian Tanners Association (APKI) chairman Diyono Hening Sasmito said Wednesday that the tanning industry had suffered during the economic crisis as the government had failed to support the sector. This resulted in firms opting to export wet blue leather rather than finished leather.

This situation had effectively edged out local tanneries from the local downstream leather industry, Dinoyo said during the launching of a new trade publication, the Indonesian Leather Specification Profile 2007.

"Before the crisis, although there was no specific regulation on the leather trade, there was an export duty to discourage the export of wet blue leather. Exports of finished leather and leather goods used to be in third position among non-oil and gas exports, but they are now in 12th position," said Diyono.

He said that the current national production of leather stood at only 110 million square feet per year, much lower than the industry's installed capacity of 240 million square feet.

"Only 30 percent of the 110 million square feet is purchased by domestic industry, and that's not only for the production of shoes, but also for garments, gloves, furniture, leather goods and handbags," he said.

In an attempt to bridge the gap between the upstream and downstream sectors of the leather industry, APKI and the Indonesian Footwear Producers Association (Aprisindo), in collaboration with USAID, have launched the Indonesian Leather Specification Profile 2007.

Hery Kameswara, an industry advisor with USAID's SENADA Indonesia Competitiveness Program, said that the research and analyses undertaken by SENADA showed that there was a communications gap between the leather tanneries and footwear manufacturers regarding the types, quality and volumes of leather needed for footwear production.

"This profile should facilitate information exchanges and lead to increased business transactions between domestic leather tanneries and footwear manufacturers," he said.

The profile provides contact details, capacities and product specifications of 152 tanneries, which are concentrated on Java island.

Eddy Widjanarko, Aprisindo chairman, said that the government should draw up strategies for the development of the upstream and downstream industries, and review the regulations on leather imports, which he claimed had been hampering the downstream sector.

"This cooperation will help the footwear industry reduce sourcing costs, particularly the high cost of importing leather," said Eddy. (02)

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