Saturday, June 02, 2007

Legal Weed a Possibility

JAKARTA: The National Narcotics Agency (BNN) and the Indonesian National Institute for Drug Abuse (INIDA) are considering the legalization of marijuana to make use of its benefits.

"All this time, we only emphasize the bad effects of marijuana. But people in Aceh are using marijuana in their food recipes," Tomi Harjatno, an drugs expert at BNN, was quoted as saying by news portal on Thursday.

"Some countries, such as the Netherlands, have also legalized marijuana to be smoked in cafes and coffee shops."

Tomi, also research and development director at INIDA, said the effects of marijuana were not as bad as perceived by the public.

"The leaves can have an hallucinogenic effect but they do not cause big negative effects," he told a seminar.

Tomi said BNN and INIDA would recommended that the government reformulate the policy on marijuana.

"We could recommend the legal use of marijuana in certain places," said Tommy. --JP

Ex-Bulog chief has brief health scare

JAKARTA: Former Bulog chief and suspect in a number of graft cases, Widjanarko Puspoyo, returned to prison on Thursday after being treated briefly at Pertamina Hospital for heart problems.

Widjanarko was rushed to the hospital at around 7:30 a.m. after complaining about an ache in his chest. After three hours of treatment in intensive care, he was returned to his Cipinang Prison cell by around 10:30 a.m.

"The doctor said he did not need to stay at the hospital as he was not too ill," Widjarnako's lawyer, Bonaran Saragih, was quoted as saying by news portal on Thursday.

On March 14, the Attorney General's Office (AGO) named Widjanarko as a suspect in a 2001 cattle importation scandal believed to have caused some Rp 11 billion (US$1.2 million) in losses to the state. He has been in detainment since March 20 and has also been named as a suspect in a graft cast involving rice imports from Vietnam.

Bonaran said he would request a second opinion on his client's health from Harapan Kita Hospital, as the treatment at Pertamina Hospital had been recommended by the AGO.

"If there is no problem, we will examine (Widjarnako's health) at Harapan Kita Hospital on Monday," Bonaran was quoted as saying by news portal on Friday.

Bonaran argued that the AGO could not reject his request for a second opinion, as it related to his client's health and safety. -- JP

Govt slammed for choosing coal

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Greenpeace has berated the government for replacing petroleum with coal to meet the nation's energy needs, highlighting that carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants are one of the main contributors to human-induced global climate change.

"Coal produces 29 percent of carbon per energy unit higher than oil and 80 percent of carbon higher than gas," Red Constantino of Greenpeace International told a press conference Thursday.

The government has announced that coal will replace oil within the next ten years to meet domestic energy demands. Indonesia plans to build coal-fired power plants to generate around 10,000 megawatts of electricity by 2009.

Constantino said that as an archipelagic nation, Indonesia is highly vulnerable to climate change. If sea levels rise, many regions in Indonesia could be submerged, he said.

The environmental group predicts that by 2030, 72 hectares in Jakarta will be submerged, and that by 2050, 160 ha of the city will be underwater.

Greenpeace called on the Indonesian government to join the "energy revolution" fueled by renewable, efficient energy sources in a global effort to ensure energy security and to avoid the more severe impacts of climate change.

"Clean coal and cheap coal are big industry's lies. Coal carries huge costs in the form of severe pollution, climate change and the displacement of local communities. Coal is artificially cheap only because the great bulk of these costs are passed on to taxpayers," Constantino said, adding that clean and sustainable energy alternatives are widely available.

Meanwhile, Greenpeace Southeast Asia climate and energy campaigner Nur Hidayati said industry was being bullish about Indonesia's export potential at a time when the world has no choice but to reject climate-killing coal.

Hidayati labeled a meeting of coal producers and buyers scheduled to take place in Bali from Monday through to Wednesday as "a meeting of climate criminals".

"Every dollar spent on coal is a dollar diverted away from energy efficiency and renewable energy -- the real energy solutions," Hidayati said.

"With proper investment of US$60 billion a year, renewable energy alone could produce 58 percent of electricity demand by 2050. Indonesia can lead Southeast Asia toward real sustainable development only if it leaves behind coal."

In December, Bali will host a United Nations climate change conference that is crucial to the next phase of post-Kyoto Protocol greenhouse emission cuts. (02)

Pancasila 'needs practice, not campaign'

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

A senior political scientist has said that law enforcement and national role models are needed to ensure that the values of the state ideology, Pancasila, remain relevant today, not propaganda or formal education.

"People do not need to be taught about this and that. They don't need a lecture about morality and values because they already practice this in their lives," Indriya Samego from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

"The people do not need rhetoric about Pancasila, but rather law enforcement and leaders as good role models."

He said Pancasila -- the "five principles" -- was a form of commitment made by the nation's founding fathers to deal with the cultural variations in the archipelago.

"Pancasila is still relevant in the lives of many people in the country, but its interpretation is still incomplete due to differences in the interpretation," Indriya said.

"During the New Order era, the state monopolized the interpretation leaving no space for the people to provide the meaning of the ideology."

Following Soeharto's New Order era, the pendulum of Pancasila's interpretation swung from being state-based to being society-based. It remains in an uncertain condition, however, in which leaders should take more responsibility for changes.

Highlighting the recent row over illegal funding in the 2004 presidential election, Indriya said the affair is being ruled more by political power than by law.

Yogyakarta Governor Sultan Hamengkubuwono X also warned of the diminishing role of Pancasila in the public sphere as it becomes dominated by the interests of political parties, the wealthy and mass movements.

"Nowadays, Pancasila is rarely heard of, even in a formal speech, compared to the past era when almost everybody needed to pronounce it as if it was a sacred mantra," Antara news agency quoted the sultan as saying in a speech to commemorate the birth of Pancasila at Gajah Mada University.

"Everybody seems to want to be released from the past stigma."

The sultan said the open ideology of Pancasila could become a dynamic, diverse ideology if each successive generation was given the opportunity to provide its own interpretation.

"No matter what, Pancasila has been proven to be a source of wisdom and strength in the nation during every crisis," the sultan said.

In Blitar, East Java, Ni Wayan Suriastini, coordinator of the National Integration Movement, said the nation was in a crisis of conscience over its own culture.

"There have been many attempts to reject Pancasila as the state ideology. Human rights, as well as the spirit of unity, was also abandoned, especially with the emergence of the secessionist movements," Suriastini said during a ceremony at Sukarno's cemetery to commemorate the birth of Pancasila.

During the celebration, Blitar mayor Djarot Saiful Hidayat proposed that the June 1 birthday of Pancasila be made an official national day.

It is widely believed that Sukarno promulgated Pancasila on June 1, 1945, however the New Order regime insisted it was conceptualized Aug. 18, 1945, as part of the preamble to the 1945 Constitution. (02)