Saturday, May 19, 2007

Anger over promotion of alleged '98 rights abusers

Saturday, May 19, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Activists have expressed doubt the public can expect much from the prosecution of military personnel involved in the 1998 disappearance of activists through military courts.

Commenting on the recent promotions of several members of Team Mawar -- a military team allegedly responsible for the abduction of pro-democracy activists in 1998 -- Usman Hamid, coordinator of the Commission for Disappearances and Victims of Violence (Kontras), said military tribunals had only facilitated impunity for high-ranking officers who were responsible for the abductions, while victimizing lower ranking soldiers.

"This just demonstrates that the military is not interested in human rights enforcement as an agenda for it's accountability. Up until now, the handling of many cases of corruption and human rights violations has been hindered by the military's internal mechanisms," Usman told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

He said the military tribunal held in 1999 was an attempt to avoid public pressure, but when public pressure subsided the military became less transparent in order to avoid accountability.

"By giving them only light punishment and then later promoting them to higher ranks, the military has triggered a repetition of other abduction and torture cases that have occurred in the country. The 2001 murder of Theys Hiyo Eluway, and the murders of several academics and activists during the imposition of martial law in Aceh, as well as the murder of Munir in 2003 are all reminiscent of what happened in 1998," Usman said.

Following the kidnappings of at least 22 activists in 1998, a Jakarta military tribunal sentenced the commander of Team Mawar, Maj. Bambang Kristiono, to 22 years in jail and discharged him from the military. The tribunal also jailed and discharged four of his subordinates, and jailed six others without discharging them from the military.

Six of the 11 people tried appealed to a higher court. The results of the appeals were not disclosed to the public, however, until the mass media discovered that some of the men had been promoted to strategic positions. Among them were Lt. Col. Fausani Multhazar, who is now the Jepara Military District Commander in Central Java, and Lt. Col. Untung Budi Harto, who is now the Ambon Military District Commander in Maluku.

Since the beginning of the tribunal, many human rights organizations, including the National Commission on Human Rights, have tried to pressure the government to solve the case through an ad hoc human rights court, but the military insisted on using its court.

"Neither civil nor military courts acknowledge the term 'command responsibility', which is why those responsible for abducting the activists are able to get away with their crimes," said Usman.

He said the former chief of the military, Gen. Wiranto, should be held responsible for the kidnappings.

Asmara Nababan, former secretary general of the rights commission, said military courts could only try cases related to internal military discipline, but not cases of gross human rights violations.

He said the commission had cast doubt on the tribunal and sent a letter asking for the termination of the court, but it was to no avail.

"In a human rights court, a commander is responsible for the actions of his subordinates, even if he has not given any orders. He is also responsible if he is aware that an act is about to take place, yet fails to prevent it," he told the Post.(02)

Civic education bill 'counterproductive'

Friday, May 18, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Experts have criticized a bill on civic education saying it will be counterproductive as it focuses more on the state's interests than those of the people.

Speaking at a seminar on the bill, Azyumardi Azra, director of the postgraduate school at the Jakarta State Islamic University, said the bill overemphasized the obligation to defend the state.

"This emphasis will trigger opposition from the people as it raises collective memory concerning the previous state indoctrination on the ideology of Pancasila," Azyumardi told participants of the seminar held at Borobudur Hotel on Wednesday.

"Articles in the bill clearly overemphasize the spirit of defending the state. If it becomes a law, it will receive strong resistance from the people. Do we really need to repeat the same old mistake of indoctrination and a militaristic approach to civic education?" Azyumardi asked.

He said that although civic education was very important in pluralistic countries, the bill needed to be reformulated to avoid such opposition.

"A good result will not come out of a false approach," he said.

Indria Samego, a political expert from the Indonesian Science Institute, said the bill was counterproductive as it aimed for the state to rearrange and monopolize the standard and content of civic education.

He also branded the proposed establishment of a national council for civic education as "structural demolition".

Indria called for a paradigm shift from state-centered to society-centered civic education, with the state to focus on its main functions of providing peace, security, prosperity and law enforcement.

"We do not need civic education like what we had during the New Order regime, but rather a system that respects pluralism, transparency, accountability, effective governance and law enforcement," he said.

"Civic education is ideological and more than just a curriculum monopolized by the state through formal education. It is an effort to give contextual and actual values to nationalism. This is not the time for the state to be so dominant. It is a time to provide more opportunities for non-state powers such as political parties to be more responsible in civic education," he said.

Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono said in his opening remarks that while a formal civic education was important, more important were concrete efforts to improve the social and economic welfare of the people.

"We hope that when the people are better off economically, every ideological slogan will have more meaning," Juwono told reporters at the seminar.

The Defense Ministry has been deliberating the bill since 2004. An initial draft of the bill was formulated in 2005, with the bill being drafted in 2006.

The seminar, attended by more that 150 experts and practitioners from various backgrounds, was organized to seek input into improving the final draft of the bill which will be submitted to an inter-ministerial committee in 2008. (02)

Abdul Rahman criticized over Soeharto case intervention

Friday, May 18, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Activists have criticized former Attorney General Abdul Rahman Saleh for allegedly intervening in the Attorney General's anticorruption campaign by asking incumbent Hendarman Supandji not to continue investigations into former president Soeharto's corruption cases.

"We see his (Abdul Rahman's) statement as unethical and politically motivated," said a member of Imparsial -- a human rights monitoring group.

"It's such a misleading message because the Attorney General's Office (AGO) still has many cases of corruption and human rights violations to pursue," Donny Ardiyanto said Wednesday.

Abdul Rahman allegedly told his successor during the transfer-of-duty ceremony earlier this month that Hendarman should not prosecute corruption cases involving Soeharto.

But Donny said as a former attorney general, Abdul Rahman must consider cases involving corruption as highly contentious -- not only because they had caused huge losses to the state, but also because they usually involved many government and law enforcement officials.

"An attorney general has a heavy task because he has to deal with colleagues from other law enforcement institutions and also government officials," Donny said.

"But he should have realized that."

Donny hinted there might be a possibility of Soeharto being granted amnesty for his corruption cases.

He said this would be in recognition of Soeharto's contribution to the country and his aging condition.

But Donny said the key to resolving any Soeharto case was to bring him to court.

"People will accept whatever the court's decision is, but the most important thing is to put him on trial -- he (must) respect the due process of law."

Hendarman should regard his predecessor's statement as merely "post-power syndrome", Donny said.

"Based on his experience as head of the anticorruption investigation team, he has two things Abdul Rahman Saleh did not have -- courage and a closeness with the working mechanism at the AGO as a career attorney.

"(This experience and knowledge) allows him to effectively coordinate all levels of prosecution."

Imparsial member Bhatara Ibnu Reza said bringing Soeharto to court would also provide the former president an opportunity to prove his innocence.

"The country needs courageous prosecutors as they are actually representing the people.

"Hendarman Supandji, as the top prosecutor in the country, should have the courage to dismiss the order to stop investigations into Soeharto's (conduct)," he added.

Executive director of Imparsial Rusdi Marpaung said Soeharto's corruption cases were only the tip of the iceberg.

He said there were many human rights violations cases which had occurred during Soeharto's 32 years in power.

"Soeharto's corruption cases and human rights violation cases are two sides of the same coin," Rusdi said.

"If Hendarman can open the corruption cases, everything else will be disclosed -- including the flow of funds for military operations and other crimes against humanity." (02)

Defense Ministry pursues House ratification of defense treaties

Wednesday, May 16, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Defense Ministry is synchronizing key issues for the implementation of the recently-signed defense treaties between Indonesia and Singapore as part of efforts to persuade the House of Representatives to ratify the documents.

Indonesia and Singapore signed a defense cooperation agreement and a military training area agreement in Bali last month, but must wait until these treaties are ratified by the respective Houses of the two countries.

"We are now synchronizing articles of the implementation arrangement between the armed forces of the two countries," Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono told reporters Tuesday on the sidelines of the inauguration of two officers at the Defense Ministry.

Vice Adm. Soemardjono replaces Vice Adm.(ret) Iman Zaki as inspector general of the Defense Ministry, while Rear Adm. Tedjo Edi Purdianto replaces Rear Adm.(ret) Yuwendi as director general of defense planning.

"Synchronizing the implementation arrangement is part of a process to persuade the House, as well as the people, that the content of these agreements, the treaty on extradition and the defense cooperation agreement, does not lessen the sovereignty or the national interests of either of the two countries," he added.

Juwono said President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had ordered him and Foreign Affairs Minister Hassan Wirayuda to settle the ratification with commission I of the House. Ratification hinges on the discussion between the two ministers and the House on the framework of the agreements, as well as on crucial articles.

Juwono said the agreements would facilitate the interests of the two countries.

"This is a deal. We need to return many assets that were taken to Singapore, and at the same time Singapore needs space for training. This has become a heated issue only because it involves Singapore, which is usually an easy target for people in the House," Juwono said.

Indonesian training fields that could be used by the Singaporean military include Bravo area offshore Natuna and Ara Island in the Karimata Strait, both in the Riau Islands, for naval training; Baturaja in South Sumatra for army training and Alfas I and II in Tanjung Pinang and Natuna for air force maneuver training.

Juwono said the defense and extradition agreements were signed simultaneously because an agreement between President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Oct. 24, 2005, in the Tampak Siring State Palace in Bali required the synchronized implementation of extradition and military cooperation.

"Developments in one agreement must refer to developments in the other agreement, but do not necessarily have to be linked to each other. Parallel, but not necessarily linked to each other, that was the term used," Juwono said.

Secretary general of the Defense Ministry, Lt. Gen. Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin, said his ministry would hold a working meeting with House Commission I for foreign affairs, defense and information on May 28 to explain in detail the agreements. (02)

Police, AGO push for Munir review

Tuesday, May 15, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Attorney General's Office (AGO) has said it will use the dissenting opinion from the Supreme Court's ruling on human rights activist Munir Said Thalib's murder case to push for a case review.

The AGO claims this would also be advantageous for police efforts to present new evidence that would help in filing a case review.

The Supreme Court acquitted Garuda Indonesia off-duty pilot Pollycarpus Budiono Priyanto of Munir's murder due to a lack of evidence.

"There are three possibilities for filing a case review, but we have chosen the third possibility and we are enhancing the third construction with new evidence," Attorney General Hendarman Supandji told reporters Monday without elaborating on the possibilities.

Recently, police announced the emergence of new evidence, including a new key witness named Ongen Latuihamallo, which could lead to Pollycarpus sitting before the Supreme Court once again.

The police are still investigating two other suspects in the case, namely former Garuda Indonesia president director Indra Setiawan and Rohainil Aini, the secretary to Garuda's chief pilot.

Munir died from poisoning in September 2004 during a trip from Jakarta to Amsterdam, the Netherlands, on a Garuda flight. The results of an autopsy conducted by Dutch forensic experts on Oct. 13, 2004, showed that Munir's death was the result of an excessive amount of arsenic in his system.

Hendarman said he had asked the junior attorney general for general crime to coordinate with the National Police to strengthen the third construction with new evidence.

"Some witnesses have yet to be questioned, but I have asked them to be questioned before the end of the month," he said.

Meanwhile, National Police chief Gen. Sutanto said police would make every effort possible to aid the Attorney General's Office in reviewing the Munir murder case.

Sutanto told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting of police chiefs from Java and Bali that police would carry out intensive investigations by questioning a number of witnesses, including officials from the State Intelligent Agency.

"Nobody is above the law. Anyone suspected of involvement in the murder of Munir will be questioned," he was quoted as saying by Antara news agency.

Sutanto said, however, that police would not disclose details of their investigation so as not to compromise the on-going overall investigation.

Dismissing accusations from various quarters that the results of the police investigation into the Munir case have so far been fabrications, Sutanto said police would continue with their efforts to solve the case without responding to such allegations. (02)

AGO urged to take lead in May riots probe

Tuesday, May 15, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Human rights activists told the Attorney General's Office on Monday to be more progressive in probing the May 1998 riots without waiting for a House of Representatives recommendation to set up an ad hoc human rights tribunal.

The activists said the Attorney General's Office (AGO) seemed more valiant when dealing with corruption cases, but was cowardly in handling human rights violations involving the military and the police.

Indria Fernida from the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) said the AGO should launch an investigation into the case considering its two central functions are investigation and prosecution.

"The House's recommendation of an ad hoc court is in the stage of prosecution and it would only happen if the AGO had held an investigation into the case," Indria said.

"How can we leave a decision as to whether a case is a human rights violation to a political body like the House? Don't mix law with politics."

Indriya said that instead of discussing technicalities such as the material and formal requirements of the case, the AGO should work together with the National Commission on Human Rights to solve such matters.

"We thought that Hendarman Supandji, as the new attorney general, would bring some new hope, but hearing these old arguments again and again makes us think it will still be difficult for the families of the victims to receive justice," Indriya said.

The meeting was scheduled to be attended by Hendarman, but the AGO was represented only by its spokesman Salman Maryadi and human rights director Moch. Djaenuddin.

The meeting was immediately heated by Salman's opening statement that the AGO was unable to launch an investigation into the 1998 riots because it occurred prior to the enactment of the 2000 Human Rights Court Law.

"According to Article 23 of the law, cases that took place before 2002 are under the jurisdiction of an ad hoc court, which should be recommended by the House," Salman told the meeting.

He said that because no specific procedures existed pertaining to human rights trials, the Criminal Code Procedures were applicable.

The procedures demand, however, that unless a case meets specific material and formal requirements, it could be rejected or the perpetrator could be exonerated.

"We don't want this to happen. This is not because we are reluctant, but because we don't want to fail," Salman told the meeting.

Indriya said, however, that the AGO was showing its reluctance to work with the human rights commission in cases involving abducted activists by, for example, refusing to investigate crime scenes listed by the commission.

Edwin Partogi, also from Kontras, said the AGO had acted cowardly in its probing of human rights violations, hinting that military hegemony still exists in the office.

"The AGO seems to be very brave when handling corruption cases, but it seems to never consider tortures, killings, rape, burnings and looting as crimes ... with every reason they are trying to reject investigations, even by manipulating the law," Edwin said.

"There is no single article in the 2002 law preventing you from launching an investigation. There is no law broken if you launch an investigation. Just enforce the law and don't mix it with political considerations," he added. (02)

Regional council, experts battle govt over constitution amendment

Saturday, May 12, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The government's opposition to further amendments to the 1945 Constitution is being challenged by the Regional Representatives Council (DPD) and experts, who say the regions are not yet fully represented in the law-making process.

The DPD has called for the amendment of Article 22 of the Constitution to strengthen its position vis-a-vis the House of Representatives (DPR), which has been accused of sidelining the DPD during the deliberation of important laws.

The regional council has argued that its legislative rights are currently limited to merely preparing bills linked to regional interests and that a strengthening of its position would greatly aid the implementation of regional autonomy, as well as establish a proper bicameral system of representation.

"The other political institutions, such as the DPR, do not really represent regional interests as they adhere more to political parties and are Jakarta-oriented," said Siti Zuhro, an expert from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), during a talk show Friday.

The DPD should be given the authority to provide clear and concrete contributions and also to improve the check-and-balance system, Siti said.

"We need an institution that really represents regional interests. What is the point in creating an institution and providing it with a huge amount of money but not giving it an adequate role?" she asked. "That is just squandering time and money."

Siti said Article 22 of the Constitution explicitly subordinates the DPD and therefore requires amendment.

Muhammad Qodari, an observer from Indo Barometer, told the discussion that good political communication between the DPD, the House and the public would reduce the fear that the Constitution might be extremely revised, and help people opposing amendment to understand that only one article is being targeted.

"If the public becomes less resistant, the House might be more willing to support the amendment," Qodari said.

Former state secretary Yusril Ihza Mahendra said Article 22 was the result of a political compromise between opposing political powers during the four rounds of constitutional amendment between 1999 and 2002.

Yusril said that if amending the Constitution was found to be too difficult, it may be more effective to revise the 2003 Law on the Composition and Structure of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR), the DPR and Provincial and Regental Legislatures.

This law puts the DPD in a position similar to that of a faction that is involved only in the early stages of the deliberation of a law.

Yusril said that by revising the 2003 law, the DPD would be able to fully participate in deliberating laws as they see fit.

In order to prevent a protracted amendment process, he also suggested the amendment of Article 22 be done simultaneously with the revision of the law on political parties.

Bambang Suroso, a DPD member, said the limited role of the DPD made it difficult for its members to be accountable to their constituents.

"We are like spectators to the legislation process. We have proposed 92 products of legislation with seven among them really accommodating local aspirations. We never know what the DPR will do about this legislation," Bambang said.

"How can we prove our moral or political responsibility to our constituents?"

The Democratic Party faction withdrew its support for the proposal following an announcement by the faction's chairman, Syarief Hassan, that 23 party legislators, who had previously agreed to the proposed amendment, had declined to sign.

Chapters 3 and 37 of the Constitution state that the only body with authority to amend the Constitution is the MPR, which requires at least one-third of its 677 members to approve such a proposal. (02)

Don't choose rotten judges, say activists

Thursday, May 10, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Activists and observers are demanding that the Judicial Commission and the House of Representatives prioritize quality over quantity in selecting candidates for Supreme Court judgeship.

The Judicial Commission, as mandated by the Constitution, is responsible for selecting potential Supreme Court justices, who must then be screened by the House of Representatives through a fit-and-proper test.

To fill the six currently vacant positions on the Supreme Court, the commission recommended six candidates to the House of Representatives on Nov. 6, 2006. However, on Nov. 15, the House postponed the fit-and-proper test because Article 18 of the 2004 Law on the Judicial Commission requires at least three candidates for each vacant position.

As a result of this decision, the Judicial Commission held another selection round this year and fulfilled the House's demands by listing 16 more candidates from among the 105 applicants.

"We don't expect that the Judicial Commission will only look for quantity and sacrifice the quality of judges," said Emerson Yuntho, from Indonesian Corruption Watch (ICW), during a meeting between commission members and activists from the Judicial Watch Coalition on Wednesday.

"We are afraid that in order to avoid objections from the House, the commission will force itself to pass 12 new candidates, although they may not be qualified," Emerson said.

The Judicial Watch Coalition comprises 10 rights organizations including the ICW, the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), the Institute for a Criminal Justice System, the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute and the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation.

The coalition requested that the commission not choose judges wishing only to see out their careers on the Supreme Court.

"If the commission forces itself to pass through any problematic candidates, we will have more problems and a worse court mafia than ever," Emerson said.

Citing the 2003 selection of members for the National Human Rights Commission, Ori Rahman from Kontras said the commission should avoid selecting incapable candidates.

Ali Nursahid, also from Kontras, said that considering the previous court's history of granting impunity to alleged rights violators, a careful investigation into the backgrounds of candidate justices is required.

"From three cases of human rights violations that have been tried, namely the Abepura, Tanjung Priok and East Timor cases, the Supreme Court, which should guard human rights enforcement, to the contrary perpetrated impunity upon the perpetrators," Ali said.

He urged the commission to base its selections on international standards such as the candidate's expertise in international law and human rights.

In response to activists' anxieties, the head of the commission, Busyiro Muqoddas, said the commission had learned from the first round of candidate selections and improved its methodology.

Busyiro said the unexpected decisions regarding the human rights cases were not only related to the intellectual capacities of the judges but also to their mentalities.

He agreed that the commission should prioritize quality over quantity, and that notions of quality should be based on clear standards and criteria. (02)

Silent protest won't happen again, says Timor commission member

Wednesday, May 09, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The surprising silent protest by East Timorese members of the joint Indonesia-Timor Leste commission at its recent hearing is expected to be the first and the last because such action could hamper commission activities.

"How can we look for the truth if we cannot retain a certain level of friendship," East Timorese commission member Maria Olandina Alves told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.

The East Timorese members staged the protest Friday, the fourth day in a series of Commission for Truth and Friendship (CTF) public hearings.

During the afternoon of Friday's session, while hearing the testimony of former Suai police chief Sr. Comr. Gatot Subiyaktoro, all East Timorese commission members remained silent in a protest against commission co-chairman Benjamin Mangkoedilaga of Indonesia.

During an earlier session Friday, victim of pro-independence military violence Bertha dos Santos was forbidden by Benjamin from answering a question asked by Olandina.

However, Olandina said commission members from the two countries solved the problem during an internal meeting later that evening.

"We didn't plan the action at all -- it just happened naturally because we were shocked by co-chairman's actions," said Olandina.

"We hope this accident is first and the last, as it might impact our mission to find the truth," she said.

Olandina, a former East Timor provincial councilor from the Indonesian Democratic Party, dismissed allegations from the international community and activists that the commission would provide impunity for those responsible for human right violations around the 1999 United Nation-sponsored referendum.

"Such action would be unlikely," she said.

"Although the commission will recommended amnesty, it has a tight criteria for any such recommendation.

"We may consider a (cooperative admittance of crimes) from the perpetrators to prevent any easy amnesty arrangement."

If this occurs it will mean the perpetrators must admit their crimes and ask for apology, said Olandina.

"Coming to testify before the commission doesn't mean someone is being cooperative.

"We have not reached a conclusion yet, but the public will easily see who has acted in a cooperative manner during the commission," she said.

Olandina also said public testimony was just one of many methods used by the commission to reveal the truth.

Other methods include taking statements and thorough research, she said.

"We are now in the investigation phase, which will show whether a particular act or policy was right or wrong, according to human rights criteria," she said.

The next hearing will be in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara province and in Dili, East Timor. Final decisions on the time frame will be made at CTF's meeting in Bali from May 22-26.

The hearing in Kupang will have a number of former regents and police chiefs as well as referendum observers from the Carter Center and the Independent Committee for Direct Ballot Monitoring.

The commission in Dili will hear testimonies from President Xanana Gusmao, Prime Minister Ramos Horta and East Timor military chief Brig. Gen. Taur Matan Ruak. (02)

Agency defends nuclear power plant development

Wednesday, May 09, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Nuclear Technology Supervisory Agency has defended the government's policy to develop nuclear technology for research, industry and energy on the basis that such technology has been proven safe.

Agency head Sukarman Aminjoyo said that Indonesia has operated three nuclear reactors for several years and no accidents have occurred.

"All forms of technology involve certain risks, but since the early development of our reactors we have surveyed all probabilities. We have even anticipated the possibility of risks associated with potential earthquakes," Sukarman told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.

He said that the safety and security of Indonesia's nuclear reactors had been proven during the earthquake in Yogyakarta last May. The nuclear reactor at the research center there was unscathed, showing that nuclear energy is safe even in the "ring of fire" if proper design technology is used.

"Regulations oblige us to choose power plant technology that has been proven safe, rather than new, untested technology," he said.

Sukarman also said that many Asian countries frequently affected by earthquakes such as Japan and Korea had long been developing their own nuclear power plants.

"Japan has built more than 50 power plants and South Korea has built more than 20 power plants. Japan is often hit by earthquakes but has avoided nuclear accidents. Why are we so worried about risks we are able to anticipate?" Sukarman asked.

In Indonesia, reactors located in Yogyakarta, Bandung and Serpong, Banten, are being used for research.

Last year President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono announced government plans to start building a nuclear power plant in 2010 which will commence operations in 2016. This power plant will be the first nuclear power plant to provide energy to the public and industrial sectors in the country.

Sukarman said that in many countries, nuclear power plants are owned and run by the government as strategic resources, but Indonesia's 2006 Law on Nuclear Reactors allows the private sector to apply for nuclear power plant licenses.

He said the agency, as the controlling body, accepts applications for licenses for the development of nuclear power plants. A national team for the development of reactors decides the criteria for ownership.

"We are responsible for assessing all applications before issuing various licenses, such as for location and construction," Sukarman said.

In an attempt to improve its services to the public, the agency marked its ninth anniversary by opening a one-stop service center for public and industry licensing.

Besides issuing licenses for nuclear installations, the agency also issues licenses for industry, research and health purposes.

The Director for Radiation and Radioactive Facility Licensing at the agency, Azhar, said the body has issued more than 400 industrial licenses for industries including the paper, steel, wood, cement and cigarette industries.

In the health sector, the agency has issued more than 3,000 licenses for hospitals and health clinics around the country including for cancer therapy at 20 hospitals and nuclear medicine at 12 hospitals.

The agency also issues licenses for non-reactor installation, such as for isotope industry installations and radioactive treatment installations.

Besides issuing licenses, the agency is also responsible for monitoring installations. The agency currently has a limited number of inspectors, but is prioritizing monitoring facilities with a greater potential risk, such as industries in which radioactive materials are used. (02)

Charges 'senseless,' Wiranto tells applauding crowd

Sunday, May 06, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Former Indonesian Military chief Gen.(ret) Wiranto finally appeared Saturday before the Indonesia-Timor Leste Commission of Truth and Friendship (CTF), saying he maintained his innocence in the face of "senseless and crazy" accusations.

Dressed in an open-collared shirt and suit, he confidently addressed the packed public hearing of the Commission at the Borobudur Hotel, to frequent applause and laughter.

Wiranto, now leader of a new political party, Hanura, testified in the afternoon. His appearance followed that of former East Timor police chief Insp. Gen (ret) Timbul Silaen and came before the appearance of former deputy commander of the Mahidi militia, Cancio Lopes de Carvalho.

Among those attending Wiranto's testimony were former military officers Maj. Gen. (ret) Adam Damiri and Maj. Gen. (ret) Zaky Anwar Makarim. Along with Wiranto both were previously indicted by the East Timor Serious Crime Unit. Adam testified before the commission in its first hearing in Bali last month.

Indonesian and East Timorese commission members repeatedly questioned Wiranto over his role as military chief and defense minister at the time of the 1999 independence referendum in the then province of East Timor.

Violence before and after the vote left 1,000 dead, according to United Nations estimates.

"How can I be responsible for a policy that was decided by the state?" Wiranto said. The former general argued he was subordinate to the then Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs, Gen. (ret.) Feisal Tanjung, who has not been summoned by the commission.

At the commission hearing, Wiranto read from his written testimony, entitled "The Emergence of the Light of Truth", copies of which were distributed to the audience.

Dismissing allegations from the international community of gross human rights violations, Wiranto said Indonesian security forces had done their best to prepare for a peaceful and orderly referendum, which took place on Aug. 30, 1999.

"It was extremely difficult for Indonesian security forces to guarantee a peaceful and successful referendum with only three months preparation," Wiranto said.

"But what have we received? No praise, no appreciation or gratitude, but accusations that Indonesia has committed crimes. This is senseless and crazy," he said to applause.

Citing former American security attache John B. Haseman, Wiranto attributed the violence to what he called an age-old "habit" among locals of settling problems through violence, which he said dated back to the Portuguese colonial era.

At the hearing, Wiranto screened a video showing him making an plea for peace before the signing of a pact between feuding Timorese groups in April 1999, with East Timor's two bishops in attendance.

Wiranto denied the military had funded, trained and armed the pro-Jakarta militia groups which subsequently went on a deadly rampage through the province.

"If we had an evil agenda to scuttle the referendum, there wouldn't have been a referendum (in the first place) and there wouldn't have been an independent East Timor," Wiranto said.

Wiranto also repeated the assertion of other military officers who had earlier appeared before the commission that the violence was inevitable in the wake of the announcement of the result of the UN-sponsored referendum.

"For many people who supported Indonesia, they could not see a future after independence. They had to leave and they burned their own houses because they did not want them to fall into the hands of those who they considered their enemies," he said.

Former police chief Timbul Silaen had also denied that troops forcibly moved hundreds of thousands of East Timorese to Indonesia's West Timor and engaged in a scorched earth campaign.

Silaen argued that such a policy would have been "too horrible."

"There is no such thing as scorched earth in our mind," he said. (02)

Government told to review schools fund, procurement scheme

Saturday, May 05, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

A research team from the Partnership for Government Reforms has asked the Education Ministry to review the School Operational Fund (BOS) and its textbook procurement scheme for elementary and secondary schools, saying both programs provide avenues for corruption.

The team, comprising experts from several organizations, found that the operational fund and text book programs, which were designed to reduce educational participation disparities, were in fact centralistic in their formulation and implementation.

The team said they also lack financial transparency and as a consequence were vulnerable to corruption.

"Even though these policies were formulated to encourage the autonomy of schools, in fact the Education Ministry plays a dominant role, relegating regional education agencies and schools to the role of operators and leaving teachers and parents with little information about these programs," Ade Irawan from Indonesian Corruption Watch (ICW) told reporters Friday.

Following six months of research on the BOS program conducted in 10 municipalities and cities, and involving more than 9,000 respondents, the team identified several core problems. These include inadequate funds for free basic education, a generic system of allocation that ignores the specific conditions and needs of schools and regions, mark-ups in the number of fund recipients and corruption, especially within schools.

"Among the incidents of corruption discovered were practices including the extortion of funds from schools by agencies and bribes paid by schools, as well as double bookkeeping entries," Irawan said.

The most plausible explanation for the growing practice of corruption in schools, Irawan said, is that the government has not provided sufficient funds for basic education.

"The Education Ministry usually points a finger at schools or regional education agencies if any problems occur, thus ignoring their own responsibility for the problems. They forget that the operational funds they provide are not enough for basic education.

"The government has said that it will need about Rp 16.1 trillion (US$1.7 billion) for free education in 2007, but in fact, it has only provided Rp 11.2 trillion ($1.2 billion)," Irawan said.

The team also found that many parents experienced difficulties in purchasing the mountain of expensive textbooks needed each semester, which could then not be reused.

In addition, the team said that the textbooks are determined by the regional education agencies and publishers, and that many were found to be inappropriate for public education.

The team recommended that the government comprehensively reassess the needs of every region and school and request input from teachers, parents and the public on the operational fund and textbook procurement program.

Dadang Trisasongko, an anticorruption adviser at the partnership, said that based on the results of the research, the team was developing a checklist to be used as an instrument for the public to monitor the implementation of these programs. (02)

Brother of ex-Bulog head held on graft charges

Friday, May 04, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The brother of former State Logistics Agency (Bulog) head Widjanarko Puspoyo has been detained on corruption charges following day-long questioning by the Attorney General's Office (AGO) on Thursday.

Salman Maryadi, an AGO spokesman, confirmed that Widjokongko Puspoyo was detained while in AGO custody soon after the questioning ended at around 8 p.m.

He was charged under articles of the law pertaining to corruption eradication, Maryadi said.

Widjokongko was named a suspect in a graft case involving rice imports from Vietnam between 2001 and 2002. He had arrived at the AGO in South Jakarta around 7:30 a.m. with his lawyer Bahari Gultom.

Junior Attorney General for Special Crimes Hendarman Supandji, who questioned Widjokongko, said he was implicated in the case when AGO investigators discovered evidence of the flow of US$1.2 million into the account of PT Arden Bridge Investment, which is owned by Widjokongko.

Articles 11 and 12 of the 1999 law on corruption eradication stipulate that government officers who receive gifts or promises of gifts in relation to their position could face five years in prison or a fine of Rp 250 million ($27,500).

"The law pertains to any attempt to make oneself rich and also says that the flow of funds to family members can be categorized into this definition," Hendarman said.

The AGO named both Widjokongko and Widjanarko as suspects in the case on April 25, but did not immediately detain Widjokongko. He was, however, prohibited from leaving the country.

His brother, Widjanarko, was questioned Thursday by the East Java Attorney General's Office as a witness in relation to allegations of graft in the East Java Logistics Agency involving the fictitious procurement of two dryers and rice grain for Rp 21 billion ($2,307,000) in 2004.

Widjanarko, who has been in detention since March after being named a suspect in another graft case involving an Rp 11 billion (US$1.2 million) Australian cattle import scandal in 2001, was questioned by the AGO in Cipinang penitentiary, East Jakarta, on Wednesday.

The AGO's director of investigation, Muhammad Salim, said the AGO would establish a special team to investigate the East Java allegations, which were now being handled by the East Java Attorney General's Office, because it could develop into a multi-regional investigation.

Two former officers at the East Java Logistic Agency, Mucharror and Ali Masyur, were named suspects and detained in Medaeng prison in Sidoarjo, East Java. (02)

RI maternity death rate reduced

Thursday, May 03, 2007
Indonesia has slashed its maternal mortality rate over the last decade but has not yet met the Millennium Development Goals target of 102 per 100,000 live births by 2015.

"This shows that the quality of health in the country is still low. The maternal mortality rate is one of the main indicators in measuring the health status of a country. The government should pay more attention to this problem, as it reflects the performance of the government in the health sector," the head of the National Development Planing Board (Bappenas), Paskah Suzetta, told a seminar Wednesday.

In 1994, Indonesia's maternal mortality rate was 390 per 100,000 live births. By 2004 it had decreased to 307 per 100,000. However, the figure remains the highest among Southeast Asian countries. The Human Development Report from the United Nation's Development Program shows the Philippines at 170, Vietnam at 95, Thailand at 36 and Malaysia at 30.

To accelerate the reduction of maternal mortality rates, the government, through Bappenas, has devised a strategy drawing expertise from fields as diverse as health, education, demography and transportation.

Paskah said the government had taken some action to reduce the number of maternal deaths, such as through the Health Ministry's "Making Pregnancy Safer Program". This program increased access for pregnant women to skilled health personnel, provided reference services, prevented unwanted pregnancies and addressed complications.

However, he said, the program had not yet significantly decreased the maternal mortality rate due to a lack of policy concurrence between the health sector and other pertinent sectors.

Sri Astuti Suparmanto, director-general of public health at the Health Ministry, said the indirect factors in maternity deaths, such as the level of a mother's education and the subordinate position of women in society, play a significant role. They can lead to hemorrhaging, eclampsia, infection, puerperal complications and abortion.

"Many women die because they fail to recognize the danger signals and delay making decisions, so they are late to reach health services," said Sri Astuti.

Nasaruddin Umar, director-general of Islamic religious guidance at the Religious Affairs Ministry, said that based on his experience in the province of West Nusa Tenggara, many religious teachings required reinterpretation because they mislead people about reproductive health.

He said the implementation of strategies to decrease the maternal mortality rate should involve local religious leaders.

"Most development programs in Indonesia cannot succeed without using religious language," Nasaruddin said.

The strategy to accelerate reductions in maternal death rates was built through the mapping of determinant factors and the analysis of the relationships between these factors, while also learning from best practices in Indonesia and other countries.

"A professional strategy without people's commitment will not work, and people's commitment without a professional strategy is a waste of resources," Paskah Suzetta said. (02)

No more money for education, govt tells court

Wednesday, May 02, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Constitutional Court on Tuesday ruled for the third time in favor of the educational sector by insisting 20 percent of the total national budget should be allocated to the country's education fund -- yet the government continues to cry poor.

"(The court) decided the 2006 law on the 2007 state budget, regarding the maximum allocation of 11.8 percent of the state budget for the education sector contradicts the 1945 Constitution and therefore has no legal strength," Jimly Asshiddiqie, the head of the Constitutional Court, told the hearing Tuesday.

The court has twice ruled the government was obligated to allocate no less than 20 percent of the state budget for education.

But the government has so far failed to meet this requirement.

In 2006 the government allocated Rp 44.1 trillion for education -- or 9.1 percent of the total national budget.

This year the education fund was raised to Rp 54.06 trillion -- or 11.9 percent of the total state budget.

The court decided although the government had shown good will in raising the education fund between 2004 and 2007, it was still not able to meet the constitutional demand of 20 percent.

Mohamad Surya, chairman of the Indonesian Teachers' Union (PGRI), said he hoped the government would immediately act on the decision because the 20 percent should be fulfilled every year.

"We want the government to comply with the Constitution and not delay it anymore," Mohamad said.

"We, the teachers, are in the front lines of education.

"We know everything about the dire conditions of our education system.

"We know how many students are forced to leave their schools and how many school buildings collapse," he told reporters after the hearing.

Accompanied by the five teachers and parents who filed the lawsuit, Surya argued the current budget, which includes funding for in-service training, was inappropriate and not in line with the International Convention of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's (UNESCO) recommendations on national educational funds.

The litigants also claimed the government had failed to implement compulsory basic education, which should be fully financed by the government, as stipulated in articles 17, 31 and 34 of the Constitution.

The government's representative Paskah Suzetta, head of the National Development Planning Board, said 20 percent could not be provided all at once.

He said it would mean the government would have to add about Rp 60 trillion (US$6.59 billion) to the education sector's budget.

But he said the government had committed to make some efforts to meet the demands of the Constitution.

"We will talk to all stakeholders in the education field to identify all problems -- and more importantly, we will try to improve educational infrastructure," said Paskah.

Mohamad said he would employ all necessary efforts to push the government to comply with the Constitution.

"Don't forget that as an organization, we have a legal standing now, which allows us to use our right for judicial review at any time."

The verdict came one day before National Education Day, which falls annually on May 2. (02)

Chopper graft suspect not guilty: Lawyer

Saturday, April 28, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The lawyer for a suspect in the alleged graft case involving the procurement of Russian-made Mi-17 helicopters has maintained that his client did nothing wrong in the US$21.6 million purchase.

The Attorney General's Office (AGO) arrested Monday three suspects in the case and announced that the procurement of four Mi-17 helicopters for the Indonesian Army was fictitious. The AGO also said that a $3.24 million down payment was not accompanied by a bank guarantee.

Those arrested were Andi Kosasih, a representative of Singapore-based Swift Air and Industrial Supply, Tarjani, the former head of the finance department at the Defense Ministry, and Marjono, the former head of the Jakarta VI State Treasury Office.

The AGO has not yet ordered the arrest of Brig. Gen. (ret) Trihandono, a former budget director at the Defense Ministry's Defense System Directorate General, pending permission from the Indonesian Military chief.

Andi's legal representative, Hartono Tanuwidjaja, said his client should not have been named as a suspect in the graft case because the procurement was based on a contract between the Defense Ministry, represented by the Indonesian Army, and a supplier.

Speaking at a press conference Friday, Hartono accused the AGO of discriminating against his client by not also arresting Trihandono.

Hartono said Andi had merely satisfied all the requirements stipulated in the Defense Ministry contract and reiterated there was no cause to name him as a suspect.

"The chief of the financial department of the Russian weapons supplier Rosoboronexport, A.V. Kodratiev, had confirmed the payment," he said.

"My client had also fulfilled other (contractual) requirements, such as providing training funds for 28 pilots, technical funds for four Army representatives in Russia for a year and a subsidy for the Finance Ministry's lender, Alternarig Malaysia.

"All of these funds exceeded $3.2 million. Therefore, we should say that it is the Finance Ministry that is indebted, not my client."

He warned that if the Finance Ministry failed to payout the sum owed to the Russian supplier, then the case could be brought before the International Court of Arbitration.

An Mi-17 is a large, twin-turbine transport helicopter with three crew. It has a capacity of 32 passengers, or 4,000 kilograms of cargo, and can also act as a gunship.

Hartono was accompanied by Djoko Subroto, a member of the House of Representatives Commission I for defense and security affairs, who said AGO investigators had closed their eyes to certain facts in the case because it was "fully-loaded" with political interests.

"Since the case emerged in 2004, there was no clear decision from the AGO on whether this case involved corruption, and it is still hanging until now," Djoko said.

He added that previous allegations against Andi were proven to be untrue and that he had met all of his obligations as listed in the procurement contract, an argument not recognized by the AGO.

The case emerged when the House commission launched a probe March 2, 2004, following media reports of alleged irregularities in the purchase of four Russian-made helicopters.

After questioning at least 13 figures, including the Army chief of staff, the secretary general of the Defense Ministry, Rear Marshall Suprihadi, the Finance Ministry's budget director, Achmad Rochjadi, and Andi, the commission urged the Defense Ministry to cancel its contract with Swift Air and demanded the supplier return $3.24 million in downpayments paid by the Finance Ministry.

In January 2005, however, the commission backtracked its own decision and allowed the government to go ahead with the purchase. (02)

President has busy days ahead of reshuffle

Saturday, April 28, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has involved himself in a busy schedule ahead of the long-awaited Cabinet reshuffle, encompassing several meetings and ceremonies in Yogyakarta and Bali and a visit to Central Sulawesi.

Yudhoyono arrived mid-Thursday in Bali after attending the annual national meeting of the country's second largest Muslim organization, Muhammadiyah, in Yogyakarta.

In Bali, the President then held a limited Cabinet meeting with several ministers at Tampaksiring Palace on Friday, before witnessing the signing of an extradition pact and defense agreement between Indonesia and Singapore.

The defense treaty was signed by Indonesian Defense Minister Yuwono Sudarsono and his Singaporean counterpart Teo Chee Hean. The extradition pact was signed by Singaporean Foreign Minister George Yeo and Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda.

Prior to the signing of the treaties, the President held a bilateral meeting with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

On Saturday, Yudhoyono, accompanied by Transportation Minister Hatta Radjasa and Public Works Minister Joko Kirmanto, will visit the island of Nusa Penida on a ferry to officiate several development projects, including those covering Nusa Penida's harbor and Telaga Tanjung dam, located in Tabanan regency.

On Saturday evening, the President and first lady are scheduled to attend the celebration of the National Dharma Santi Nyepi holiday of Saka 1929 New Year at an art center in Denpasar.

On Sunday, he is scheduled to open the Inter-Parliamentary Union Conference at the Bali International Convention Center in Nusa Dua before leaving for Central Sulawesi on Monday.

Meanwhile, ahead of the reshuffle, observers and politicians have expressed various opinions on the President's decision to reshuffle his Cabinet.

Analyst Sukardi Rinakit told a public discussion that the reshuffle would not be effective if the President continued to accommodate the political parties' demands and suggested that he replace at least one-third, or 11, ministers in his Cabinet.

"The President should replace those who are considered failing to execute their duties without considering any pressure from the parties. If the President is susceptible, the reshuffle will only bring other problems," Sukardi was quoted as saying by detik.com news portal.

Ahmad Fahrial, a United Development Party (PPP) executive, said his party would be prepared if State Minister for State Enterprises Soegiarto was replaced.

He said the PPP acknowledged only three ministers as members of its body: Social Services Minister Bachtiar Chamsyah, State Minister for Cooperatives and Small and Medium Enterprises Suryadarma Ali and State Minister for the Development of Disadvantaged Regions Saifullah Yusuf.

"It is not our concern if the minister for state enterprises is to be replaced, but we see that these ministers are our best people and we think they are still eligible to hold their positions," Fahrial said Friday, as quoted by detik.com news portal.

National Mandate Party chairman Soetrisno Bachir said the President should not tolerate ministers who are involved in cases of alleged corruption, sick or economy-based ministers who have failed to empowered the real sectors. (02)

LIPI launches book on Java flora

Friday, April 27, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Indonesian Institute of Science (LIPI) is launching a book on mountainous flora in Java in an attempt to raise awareness of the richness of the country's biodiversity and to provide a reference for environmental and biological studies.

The newly-published book is an Indonesian language translation of The Mountain Flora of Java, written by Dutch botanist C.C.G.J. van Steenis. It was first published by E.J. Brill in Leiden, the Netherlands, in 1972.

"As a researcher, ever since I was at university, I viewed this book as a special text due to its contents, pictures and spirit. Even until now, it is important to and admired by many people, though the number of volumes is very limited. At a time when biodiversity is degrading, this book is becoming even more important," the head of LIPI's Biological Research Center, Dedy Darnaedi, told reporters at the book's launching, Thursday.

"This book is not only scientific but also inspiring to many people. My generation has an obligation to make this book widely read by Indonesians. I hope it can raise awareness of the richness of our biodiversity," Dedy said.

Initially intended as a guide for explorers and nature lovers, the book was saturated with pictures of 456 species of plants, all drawn by the late Sundanese artists Amir Hamzah and Moehammad Toha. The water-color illustrations were painted during their careers as painters at the Bogor Botanical Garden between 1927 and 1949.

"This is heritage for us. As many as 456 species of mountainous plants have been perfectly captured, from both an aesthetic and scientific point of view. And this happened when some of us were not even born yet," said Jeny Kartawinata, the book's Indonesian translator.

She said the book addressed the relationship between flora and volcanoes, Java's climate, the volcanology of Java in relation to the origins of mountains, the vegetation there and the benefits this brings to the local people.

"Everything related to volcanoes and the characteristics of a volcanic environment is explained in detail, but in a simple and clear way. As a non-expert, you can read the book without intellectual barriers," Jeny said.

The translator was drawn to working on the book in 1995 by its content. It was not until 2005, however, that she began seriously translating the text.

Jeny was aided by two ecologists, Tukirin Partomihardjo and Kuswata Kartawinata, and a taxonomist, Elizabeth Widjaja, who proof read the translated text.

"I have learned very much from the book just because I read the translation. Most students and experts ... usually take only a few pages to read in relation to our purposes," Tukiran said, adding that he estimated the book covered 50-60 percent of the flora on Java, but that some of it was now endangered.

"This is a masterpiece on the flora of Java. No other book has such complete descriptions and pictures," said Elizabeth Widjaja.

Publisher E.J. Brill has granted LIPI the copyright for the book's Indonesian edition. Funds totaling US$12,500 were provided by the World Bank and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for the printing of 1,000 copies.

The 259-page Indonesian version is published by Grafika Desa Putra. All of its pictures are printed on a scale of 1:1, the same size as in the original version. (02)

Public service law a priority: Experts

Thursday, April 26, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Experts have asked the House of Representatives to prioritize the deliberation of a draft law on public services, insisting it will have a direct and positive impact on society.

"This regulation will help the government meet the people's needs," said Adrinof Chaniago from the University of Indonesia.

Addressing a discussion organized by the Partnership for Governance Reform in Indonesia on Wednesday, Adrinof said that compared with some laws, the draft bill was less abstract in its content.

"For instance, although we already have a law on investment, it does not directly provide for the people," he said. "The draft law should not be passed over because there are absolutely no issues with the bill's content.

"There are some minor problems that need to be discussed, but the important thing to do is to hurry its approval," he said.

The Office of the State Minister for Administrative Reforms handed over the draft public services bill to the House in 2005.

The bill was then discussed six times by Commission II for home affairs and returned to the ministry earlier this month for revision.

Though he agreed to the ratification of the bill, Ajeng Kesuma Achmad from the Concerned Citizens for Public Service group said the draft was far from perfect and not ready to be passed into law.

She said the bill left limited space for public participation as people would have little say in determining matters relating to the standard of services, service announcements, the public satisfaction index and access by vulnerable groups to services.

"Given the minimum space for people to participate in public services, we doubt that this draft law will solve the people's problems relating to the (poor) access and quality of our basic services," said Ajeng.

She said the draft law emphasizes bureaucratic reform rather than provide an holistic attempt to fulfill the people's basic need for good services.

Citing research conducted in eight regencies by the Civil Society Alliance for Democracy (YAPPIKA), Ajeng said that more than 70 percent of respondents thought public services were not participative in terms of efforts to increase the quality of services.

Ajeng underlined the need for people to decide the quality of public services they desire through a citizen's charter, which is a service contract between the service provider and the public. It pertains to the type, process and quality of services, as well as times, costs, rights, obligations and complaint, sanction and dispute mechanisms.

"The public should be widely involved in deciding the standard of services and this requires wide access to information," said Ajeng.

Meanwhile, Ismiyarto, from the Office of the State Minister for Administrative Reforms, said his office was waiting for input from the public before it hands over an improved draft to the House. (02)

Teamwork required in HIV/AIDS fight

Wednesday, April 25, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Government is working toward greater cooperation with regional administrations in its effort to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS nationwide.

The Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare, Aburizal Bakrie, who is also the head of the National AIDS Commission, said Indonesia needs to make a serious effort to trace the roots of the AIDS epidemic because of the alarming rate in which it infiltrating families.

"This problem requires personal, local and national attention and will not be overcome if we work alone," Aburizal said in a written speech delivered by the Secretary of the National AIDS Commission, Nafsiah Mboi, during a national coordination meeting of the commission at the Bumi Karsa hotel in Jakarta on Tuesday.

On January 19 this year Aburizal's office issued a ministerial regulation on national policy on AIDS prevention in order to address the growing problem more comprehensively. The National AIDS Commission also issued the National Strategy and Action Plan 2007-2010 on AIDS.

"We have already developed a common strategy and action plan. More or less we know what to do. However, the success of this program will depend on leadership, especially at the provincial, regional and city levels. We need to improve leadership and commitment in tracing the roots of the disease," Nafsiah told reporters after the opening ceremony.

Aburizal said a large amount of money is required to implement the National Action Plan.

"Currently the government is only able to provide 30 percent of what is required and the remaining 70 percent comes from foreign donors that may halt their support at any time. We hope that by 2010, 70 percent of funding will come from the state budget, the budgets of local administrations, the domestic private sector and the public," he said.

"The AIDS epidemic and drug abuse will undermine all of our development achievements if we close our eyes to these problems. However, we can curb the spread of AIDS if the government and the public seriously join together to prevent it."

Aburizal added that AIDS was first detected in Indonesia about 20 years ago but in 2006 the number of newly reported AIDS cases escalated.

In 2006, cases of AIDS were reported in all provinces in the country with the number of reported cases more than 193,000. Jakarta topped the list with 26,805 reported cases, followed by Papua with 21,487 cases, East Java with 15,699 cases and West Java with 14,341 cases. Gorontalo was at the bottom of the list with 462 reported cases.

About 94 percent of those infected with the disease are in the 15-49 age group.

He said the official number of AIDS victims in the country is most likely higher due to the fact that many cases go unreported as a result of a general lack of public knowledge, fear of discrimination and obstacles to reporting the disease.

Aburizal said AIDS prevention programs should focus on preventing the transmission of the disease through sexual encounters as well as continuing to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS through the use of intravenous devices.

Nasfiah said the aim of the meeting was to create a similar perception around the country concerning the threat of AIDS and to improve leadership in the war against the disease.

The meeting was also marked by the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the National AIDS Commission and 14 municipal administrations on preventing HIV/AIDS.

The National AIDS Commission was established on July 13, 2006, under Presidential Regulation No. 75/2006. Its duties include providing directions to the AIDS Commission at the provincial, district and municipal levels within the framework of central government efforts to prevent, control and manage the response to AIDS.

The commission is headed by the Minister of People's Welfare, with the Minister of Health and the Minister of Home Affairs as vice chairpersons and another 12 Ministers and 11 heads of agencies and boards as members. (02)

Yudhoyono told to be selective in reshuffle

Sunday, April 22, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

While supporting President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's decision to reshuffle his Cabinet, analysts believe the President should be highly critical when selecting replacements for current ministers seen as performing poorly.

Hermawan Sulistyo, a political observer from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences, said replacement ministers should have a better understanding of their portfolio, regardless of whether this knowledge came from their academic background or past work experience.

"We don't want to keep hearing ministers say, 'It's still being investigated', when asked about a matter related to their posts," Hermawan said.

"Those appointed as ministers should be ready to work in this second half of Yudhoyono's presidential term. Two years is enough to make some significant changes."

Speaking at a public discussion Saturday, Hermawan said the Cabinet was currently dominated by an older generation of politicians, and that their replacements should be chosen from among the country's younger generation of professionals and experts.

It has been widely reported that 13 ministers in the present Cabinet are ill, suffering mainly from heart problems.

Also speaking at the discussion were Pande Raja Silalahi from the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Sammy Kristamuljana, dean of Prasetya Mulya Business School, and lawyer Luhut Pangaribuan.

Silalahi said the President had gained some advantages by deliberately delaying the Cabinet reshuffle and now had ample time to contemplate who could best fill several soon-to-be-vacant Cabinet posts.

"Previously, public debate was focused on whether a reshuffle was necessary, but now we have moved to what kind of reshuffle we need," he said.

Silalahi added that Yudhoyono should be careful in examining incoming ministers' economic management credentials.

"In 2006, our economic growth was 5.4 percent. Worldwide, only a few countries could reach this number. The growth percentage was relatively high but it was just not enough," said Silalahi.

He also emphasized that the Industry Ministry should be more proactive in its attempts to improve the industry sector's performance, which has declined in the past two years.

"Our industry sector grew 7 percent in the last seven years, but has been at its lowest performance level over the last two years. Why have there been no maneuvers from the ministry to improve this?" Silalahi asked.

Sammy said that those appointed to Yudhoyono's Cabinet should have a "common perspective" to solve the country's economic and political problems.

Referring to the success of the U.S. Rainbow Division in World War II, Sammy said that the Cabinet, often nicknamed the Rainbow Cabinet, would be successful if all its members had a common goal to work toward.

Emphasizing the need for the President to pay more attention to law enforcement, Pangaribuan pointed to several corruption cases allegedly involving Cabinet members, adding that priority should be given to cases seen as having a deterring effect on the likelihood of future instances of corruption.

"On one hand, our democratic development is amazing, but on the other hand, law enforcement is going down. Democracy should be guarded by law. Without the certainty of law, democracy will be counterproductive," he said. (02)

Yudhoyono told to be selective in reshuffle

Sunday, April 22, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

While supporting President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's decision to reshuffle his Cabinet, analysts believe the President should be highly critical when selecting replacements for current ministers seen as performing poorly.

Hermawan Sulistyo, a political observer from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences, said replacement ministers should have a better understanding of their portfolio, regardless of whether this knowledge came from their academic background or past work experience.

"We don't want to keep hearing ministers say, 'It's still being investigated', when asked about a matter related to their posts," Hermawan said.

"Those appointed as ministers should be ready to work in this second half of Yudhoyono's presidential term. Two years is enough to make some significant changes."

Speaking at a public discussion Saturday, Hermawan said the Cabinet was currently dominated by an older generation of politicians, and that their replacements should be chosen from among the country's younger generation of professionals and experts.

It has been widely reported that 13 ministers in the present Cabinet are ill, suffering mainly from heart problems.

Also speaking at the discussion were Pande Raja Silalahi from the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Sammy Kristamuljana, dean of Prasetya Mulya Business School, and lawyer Luhut Pangaribuan.

Silalahi said the President had gained some advantages by deliberately delaying the Cabinet reshuffle and now had ample time to contemplate who could best fill several soon-to-be-vacant Cabinet posts.

"Previously, public debate was focused on whether a reshuffle was necessary, but now we have moved to what kind of reshuffle we need," he said.

Silalahi added that Yudhoyono should be careful in examining incoming ministers' economic management credentials.

"In 2006, our economic growth was 5.4 percent. Worldwide, only a few countries could reach this number. The growth percentage was relatively high but it was just not enough," said Silalahi.

He also emphasized that the Industry Ministry should be more proactive in its attempts to improve the industry sector's performance, which has declined in the past two years.

"Our industry sector grew 7 percent in the last seven years, but has been at its lowest performance level over the last two years. Why have there been no maneuvers from the ministry to improve this?" Silalahi asked.

Sammy said that those appointed to Yudhoyono's Cabinet should have a "common perspective" to solve the country's economic and political problems.

Referring to the success of the U.S. Rainbow Division in World War II, Sammy said that the Cabinet, often nicknamed the Rainbow Cabinet, would be successful if all its members had a common goal to work toward.

Emphasizing the need for the President to pay more attention to law enforcement, Pangaribuan pointed to several corruption cases allegedly involving Cabinet members, adding that priority should be given to cases seen as having a deterring effect on the likelihood of future instances of corruption.

"On one hand, our democratic development is amazing, but on the other hand, law enforcement is going down. Democracy should be guarded by law. Without the certainty of law, democracy will be counterproductive," he said. (02)

Police protect key witnesses in Munir case

Saturday, April 21, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The National Police confirmed Friday that it is protecting key witnesses to the 2004 murder of human rights activist Munir Said Thalib.

"We are protecting all the witnesses that we regard as being important as is mandated by the law on witness protection. Even though there has been no request to do so from the witnesses, the police will still proportionally decide whether a witness needs protection," National Police spokesman Comr. Gen. Sisno Adiwinoto told reporters Friday.

Sisno said that police have so far questioned two suspects and 39 witnesses.

"Just be patient with the investigation. We need time for this. An investigation usually takes time because of the need for objectivity. We need more evidence. The Criminal Code does not allow the police to present lone evidence," Sisno said.

"We are still investigating the case and until now have named only two suspects, IS and N. The information we gather from witnesses and suspects is not for public consumption, as it might paralyze further investigations."

The police detained last Saturday former Garuda Indonesia president director Indra Setiawan and Rohainil Aini, the secretary to Garuda's chief pilot.

Meanwhile, National Police chief Gen. Sutanto acknowledged that police were experiencing difficulties in solving the case not only because of the length of time between Munir's poisoning and the current phase of the investigation, but also because the crime scene was outside National Police jurisdiction.

"We are still collecting evidence and questioning witnesses in order to proceed with the case. We will not give up," he told reporters at National Police headquarters. "Anything could happen, even the 39 witnesses could become suspects."

Asked whether several prominent figures from the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) would be questioned, Sutanto said that the naming of any new suspects would be based on solid evidence and not on assumption.

Former BIN chief Hendropriyono and a BIN officer, Muchdi P.R., who have long been implicated in Munir's murder, both announced Monday they are ready to be questioned by police.

Munir was a critic of the Indonesian Military, accusing it of rights violations in the troubled provinces of Aceh and Papua and of running a network involved in illegal logging and drug smuggling.

Munir was found dead Sept. 7, 2004, on the GA 974 Garuda flight to Amsterdam which included a stopover in Singapore.

Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto is the only person ever to have been charged for the murder of Munir, although the verdict was later overruled by the Supreme Court.

Authorities now believe Munir and Pollycarpus were seen talking during a stopover at Changi Airport in Singapore, before both continued their flight to Amsterdam, the Netherlands, on Sept. 7, 2004.

It is now suspected that Munir, who died aboard the GA 972 Garuda flight before it landed in Amsterdam, was unknowingly given arsenic at Changi Airport, not during the flight as was earlier believed. (02)

Police protect key witnesses in Munir case

Saturday, April 21, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The National Police confirmed Friday that it is protecting key witnesses to the 2004 murder of human rights activist Munir Said Thalib.

"We are protecting all the witnesses that we regard as being important as is mandated by the law on witness protection. Even though there has been no request to do so from the witnesses, the police will still proportionally decide whether a witness needs protection," National Police spokesman Comr. Gen. Sisno Adiwinoto told reporters Friday.

Sisno said that police have so far questioned two suspects and 39 witnesses.

"Just be patient with the investigation. We need time for this. An investigation usually takes time because of the need for objectivity. We need more evidence. The Criminal Code does not allow the police to present lone evidence," Sisno said.

"We are still investigating the case and until now have named only two suspects, IS and N. The information we gather from witnesses and suspects is not for public consumption, as it might paralyze further investigations."

The police detained last Saturday former Garuda Indonesia president director Indra Setiawan and Rohainil Aini, the secretary to Garuda's chief pilot.

Meanwhile, National Police chief Gen. Sutanto acknowledged that police were experiencing difficulties in solving the case not only because of the length of time between Munir's poisoning and the current phase of the investigation, but also because the crime scene was outside National Police jurisdiction.

"We are still collecting evidence and questioning witnesses in order to proceed with the case. We will not give up," he told reporters at National Police headquarters. "Anything could happen, even the 39 witnesses could become suspects."

Asked whether several prominent figures from the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) would be questioned, Sutanto said that the naming of any new suspects would be based on solid evidence and not on assumption.

Former BIN chief Hendropriyono and a BIN officer, Muchdi P.R., who have long been implicated in Munir's murder, both announced Monday they are ready to be questioned by police.

Munir was a critic of the Indonesian Military, accusing it of rights violations in the troubled provinces of Aceh and Papua and of running a network involved in illegal logging and drug smuggling.

Munir was found dead Sept. 7, 2004, on the GA 974 Garuda flight to Amsterdam which included a stopover in Singapore.

Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto is the only person ever to have been charged for the murder of Munir, although the verdict was later overruled by the Supreme Court.

Authorities now believe Munir and Pollycarpus were seen talking during a stopover at Changi Airport in Singapore, before both continued their flight to Amsterdam, the Netherlands, on Sept. 7, 2004.

It is now suspected that Munir, who died aboard the GA 972 Garuda flight before it landed in Amsterdam, was unknowingly given arsenic at Changi Airport, not during the flight as was earlier believed. (02)

China opens door to military and other cooperation

Friday, April 20, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Chinese ambassador to Jakarta says the door is wide open for Indonesia to establish a security and defense cooperation without any hidden political agenda.

"Within recent years we have seen an increase in military-to-military cooperation between the two sides. China is ready to offer Indonesia military hardware without any political strings," Chinese ambassador Lan Lijun said Thursday.

"It is up to Indonesia to make a proposal. We have no problem because we feel that the Chinese military hardware, in terms of quality and price, is in a better competitive condition."

Talking to more than a hundred business persons, academics and journalists at the Aryaduta Hotel in Central Jakarta, Lan said that it was up to the two sides to discuss the kind of military cooperation, but a request by the Indonesian government would be very important.

"We have made a proposal to the Indonesian side. It is up to the Indonesian government to follow it up," he told reporters at the event.

Lan said in a prepared speech that since 2005, the two countries had established a strategic partnership, the first China has ever had with any single Southeast Asian country in the political, economics, cultural, educational, scientific, technological and military sectors.

He also emphasized the two countries should focus on several areas, such as enhancing high-level strategic dialogs as well as inter-departmental exchanges at all levels, accommodating each other's concerns, integrating the political and economic fronts of relations, and exchanges between parliaments, local governments and social establishments.

"China will continue to support the efforts of the Indonesian government in combating separatist forces and safeguarding national unification, and appreciates the Indonesian government for taking a One China policy as a political basis for developing bilateral relations," Lan said.

Since 2005, China and Indonesia have cooperated in strategic industries, such as the aircraft, steel and military hardware industries.

The secretary general of the Indonesian Defense Ministry, Lt. Gen. Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin, and the general chief of staff of the People's Liberation Army, Lt. Gen. Zhang Qinsheng, signed a memorandum of understanding on defense and security matters on April 3 in Beijing, China.

The agreement will be officially signed by both countries' defense ministers in September.

"We had agreed to bilaterally develop military technology and industry, and in turn we are not only aiming at the transfer of technology and technical assistance, but also at joint production of military equipment," said Sjafrie, as reported by Kompas daily newspaper on April 4. (02)

Air Force looks to buy locally

Thursday, April 19, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Air Force and state arms manufacturer PT Pindad has signed an agreement to locally produce weaponry and spare parts, including for Russian-made Sukhoi jet fighters.

"We need to create a synergy between the Air Force Research and Development Agency and PT Pindad, especially on strategic industry," the Air Force's chief of staff, Air Chief Marshall Herman Prayitno, told reporters during a visit to Pindad headquarters in Bandung on Wednesday.

"We could import all our military equipment, but if they can be manufactured by PT Pindad, why not use them?"

He said in the last two years, the Air Force had committed to spend more of its budget on locally manufactured products.

"We need to create more openness and a closer relationships to ease the cooperation. Furthermore, the President has ordered the prioritizing of domestic equipment purchases to accelerate our strategic industry," said Herman.

He said it was easier for the Air Force to work with local manufacturers to improve the quality of products, because it could provide direct feedback to local manufacturers.

"In the past, we had to involve third parties in purchasing military equipment. These third parties sometimes were not supportive in taking our feedback," he said.

Herman said he had instructed the Air Force Research and Development Center to produce prototypes that would support the maintenance of the Russian Sukhoi fighters to lengthen their service time.

"We can directly purchase light equipment and blank ammunition and ordnance from PT Pindad, while heavy equipment and live ammunition and ordnance have to be procured through Indonesian Military Headquarters," he said.

In 2007, the Air Force Research and Development Center and PT Pindad agreed to develop 13 pieces of military equipment, including audio and oxygen adaptors, an adaptor for the AIM-9 armament rack and a drag-chute folder for Sukhoi jet fighters.

Pindad president director Budi Santoso said it was important to put in place an evaluation system between the Air Force, as the user, and PT Pindad, as the producer, to increase the quality of production.

"If there is any equipment that we can produce together, as long as we are given enough time, I believe we can produce good quality equipment," he said.

The head the Air Force Aeronautics Agency, Air Commodore Sunaryo HW, said the Air Force and Pindad had established good communications to improve the quality of production.

"There is no such thing as instant good quality. We need to provide more feedback in order to increase the quality of equipment," he told The Jakarta Post. (02)

Final exams testing time for students, govt

Wednesday, April 18, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Padang, Semarang, Yogyakarta

The government continues to face criticism from all directions for maintaining central control of the final exam for school leavers, while hundreds of students are forced to sit the three-day test, beginning Tuesday, in less than perfect surroundings.

In addition, Education Minister Bambang Sudibyo said the government will raise the pass grade from 4.25 for junior and high school students to at least 7.00 by 2008.

And all this while some students in flooded, earthquake-damaged or disadvantaged areas have been forced to halve their pre-exam contact hours because their schools have been relocated into makeshift tents.

The central government was accused by teachers, parents and activists in a joint statement Tuesday of betraying the national education system's spirit, demanding the process be returned to individual schools' authority.

Several organizations, including the Indonesian Corruption Watch, the Indonesian Consumers Foundation, the Alliance of Parents for the Transparency of Educational Funds and the Tangerang Teachers Union, accused the government of breaking principles stipulated in the 2003 National Education System Law.

The diversity of the current curriculum as well as the government's evaluation process have come under particular attack.

Lody Paat, coordinator of the Coalition for Independent Education, said although the exam was intended to increase the quality of education provided, the government had failed to control the process.

Farous Bahar, coordinator of the Tangerang Teachers Union, accused the government of replacing a teacher's role in the examination process and of "turning the exam into a psychological terror for teachers, students and parents".

"How can we regard the exam as an instrument to increase the quality of education, if the system has become a terror for many people?" Farous asked.

But while the red-tape squabble continues unabated, students across the archipelago are doing their best to simply pass the exam -- despite the shocking conditions around them.

Iqbal Sahilman is a third year student at MAN Kotobaru Islamic high school in Padangpanjang regency, West Sumatra.

He says he's one of the lucky ones because he was able to sit his exam in a sturdy makeshift classroom rather than the tent his school has been relocated to.

Iqbal's school and surrounding area was devastated in March this year by an earthquake, leaving eight of 27 classrooms destroyed and seven others badly damaged.

The remaining 12 classrooms were not enough to accommodate 371 students sitting the national exam so the school set up eight makeshift classrooms and a tent.

"When we're studying in the tent, it's hot and hard to concentrate," Iqbal said.

Iqbal's friend, Fajriati Fatimah, found the makeshift classrooms better than the tent.

"When we (sat for the practice test) our papers (flew away with) the wind."

Fajriati said she was worried she might fail the test this week because she could not prepare properly.

"We did not have enough time to study because three hours of school time was cut from our (regular) six-hour day," she said.

Other students have pressed on despite poor conditions and illness.

Dian Lukitasari sat her test from the hospital where she is being treated for dengue fever and typhus.

The student of SMAN 11 high school in Semarang, Central Java, took her test in her room at Ketileng hospital, where she has been since Saturday.

"After consulting the doctor, I (was told I) could take the test," she said.

In other parts of the country, including Timika in Papua and Surabaya in East Java, students sat the exam without incident.

But in Palembang, South Sumatra, the exam was allegedly used by the local mayor as part of his campaign for a 2008 re-election.

Palembang's mayor, Eddy Santana Putra, left inside the student's examination papers his campaign message along with a photo of himself.

Other concerns facing educational groups nationally include the government's decision to send students who fail this year's test back to school in 2008. They were previously allowed to re-sit the exam.

Thousands of students failed the exam last year when it had a pass grade of 4.25 -- so teachers are also concerned this year's required pass grade of 5.00 will see these numbers climb.

Education Minister Sudibyo said repeat exams would only be conducted for students who missed the test due to illness. (02)

Pro-democracy activists playing the political game: Study

Friday, April 13, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Many pro-democracy activists are beginning to play active roles in politics in an attempt to improve political representation in the country, research conducted by the Center for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (Demos) revealed Thursday.

"The problem of representation is a serious problem in the democratic process. The failure to improve political representation has created wider disappointment over the ongoing process of democracy and in turn will invite the return of an authoritarian regime or a religious-based regime," Demos director Asmara Nababan said during a public discussion on the findings of the research.

The study found that many pro-democracy proponents, including NGOs, students and members of labor and lower-class movements, are now trying to broaden their agenda by working within the political system.

"They are now not only trying to gain mandates through discourse and seminars as they used to do two or three years ago, but are also trying to achieve this through elections and political parties," said Demos spokesman Antonio Prajasto.

The research -- conducted from early 2006 in Medan in North Sumatra, Pekalongan in Central Java, Banjarmasin in South Kalimantan, Palu in Central Sulawesi and Manggarai in East Nusa Tenggara -- also signaled that many pro-democracy advocates were trying to reconnect the social movement with the political movement.

Advocates are also strengthening their political capacities through alternative methods of representation such as upholding the ideas, views or interests of a specific group or a whole community and its cultural aspirations.

However, elitism, money politics and differing priorities among groups that are resisting subordination, trying to revitalize old customs or reform democratic institutions, have hampered the attempts of pro-democracy advocates to change the nature of political representation.

"We know that the pro-democratic actors are good at creating platforms, but their ideas are usually hijacked by rooted politicians, who then use them for their own political agenda," said Antonio.

Taufik Abda, a former member of the Aceh Referendum Information Center who attend the discussion, said he ran for vice mayor in Banda Aceh last November to test the consolidation of the pro-democracy movement there.

Taufik paired with Akhiruddin Mahjuddin for the election, though they did not make it into office.

Taufik said the two major challenges for the pro-democracy movement were to finance political activities and to select candidates.

Demos's findings point to the requisite creation of a pro-democracy, non-party-affiliated political group, based on participatory political mapping, if both local and federated mini-platforms for campaigning are to be developed.

This group could be formed at an intermediary level where civil organizations can cooperate in developing political education to eventually create a mini-platform, as well as to keep politicians and parties accountable. Parties and politicians seen as supporting the mini-platforms would then in turn gain broader backing.

"This (group) is merely a consolidation against recent attempts to close the political system, and is aimed at promoting popular representation instead of elitist representation," Antonio said. (02)

Pro-democracy activists playing the political game: Study

Friday, April 13, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Many pro-democracy activists are beginning to play active roles in politics in an attempt to improve political representation in the country, research conducted by the Center for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (Demos) revealed Thursday.

"The problem of representation is a serious problem in the democratic process. The failure to improve political representation has created wider disappointment over the ongoing process of democracy and in turn will invite the return of an authoritarian regime or a religious-based regime," Demos director Asmara Nababan said during a public discussion on the findings of the research.

The study found that many pro-democracy proponents, including NGOs, students and members of labor and lower-class movements, are now trying to broaden their agenda by working within the political system.

"They are now not only trying to gain mandates through discourse and seminars as they used to do two or three years ago, but are also trying to achieve this through elections and political parties," said Demos spokesman Antonio Prajasto.

The research -- conducted from early 2006 in Medan in North Sumatra, Pekalongan in Central Java, Banjarmasin in South Kalimantan, Palu in Central Sulawesi and Manggarai in East Nusa Tenggara -- also signaled that many pro-democracy advocates were trying to reconnect the social movement with the political movement.

Advocates are also strengthening their political capacities through alternative methods of representation such as upholding the ideas, views or interests of a specific group or a whole community and its cultural aspirations.

However, elitism, money politics and differing priorities among groups that are resisting subordination, trying to revitalize old customs or reform democratic institutions, have hampered the attempts of pro-democracy advocates to change the nature of political representation.

"We know that the pro-democratic actors are good at creating platforms, but their ideas are usually hijacked by rooted politicians, who then use them for their own political agenda," said Antonio.

Taufik Abda, a former member of the Aceh Referendum Information Center who attend the discussion, said he ran for vice mayor in Banda Aceh last November to test the consolidation of the pro-democracy movement there.

Taufik paired with Akhiruddin Mahjuddin for the election, though they did not make it into office.

Taufik said the two major challenges for the pro-democracy movement were to finance political activities and to select candidates.

Demos's findings point to the requisite creation of a pro-democracy, non-party-affiliated political group, based on participatory political mapping, if both local and federated mini-platforms for campaigning are to be developed.

This group could be formed at an intermediary level where civil organizations can cooperate in developing political education to eventually create a mini-platform, as well as to keep politicians and parties accountable. Parties and politicians seen as supporting the mini-platforms would then in turn gain broader backing.

"This (group) is merely a consolidation against recent attempts to close the political system, and is aimed at promoting popular representation instead of elitist representation," Antonio said. (02)

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