Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Going nuke 'only way' to prevent power crisis

Wednesday, June 27, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Developing a nuclear power plant to boost the nation's energy supply is the most feasible way of preventing a future energy crisis, experts say.

At a seminar on nuclear waste management held Tuesday, nuclear experts agreed a nuclear power plant is necessary because domestic oil reserves are dwindling and alternative energy sources had yet to be tested.

"When it comes to nuclear reactors, the public will always highlight the (1986) Chernobyl case, but they don't know that the safety technology has been improving," Hudi Hastowo, chairman of the National Atomic Energy Agency (BATAN), told reporters on the sidelines of the seminar.

"Moreover, the quality of every nuclear facility, including nuclear power plants, is subject to the review of various national and international institutions."

Citing a March 28, 1979, mishap at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant near Middletown, Pennsylvania, Hastowo said that although the technical aspects of the incident were on par with Chernobyl, plant workers and members of the nearby community went uninjured because the facility's security system was highly sophisticated.

The Middletown accident heralded sweeping changes to emergency response planning, reactor operator training, human factor engineering, radiation protection and many other aspects of nuclear plant operation.

He said Indonesia has safely operated three nuclear research reactors, located in Yogyakarta, Bandung and Serpong, for several years without incident.

In 2006, following the formulation of the National Energy Policy 2003-2020 by the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono announced a plan to begin construction of a nuclear power plant in 2010.

Expected for completion by 2016, it will produce 1,000 Megawatts of electricity for Java, Bali and Madura. It will be the first nuclear power plant to provide energy to the public and industry.

Hastowo also said that alternative, safe energy sources such as wind, solar, microhydro and biofuel were not yet being developed in Indonesia because of the high generating and technology costs involved in their utilization.

"The electricity crisis we are now facing will not be eased by 2025 unless we start developing a nuclear power plant now," he said.

Emy Perdanahari, electricity program director at the energy ministry, said that by 2025 renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and biofuel, in addition to nuclear, should account for 17 percent of national energy supply. Coal should account for 33 percent, gas for 30 percent and oil for 20 percent, she added.

Former state minister for research and technology, Muhammad A.S. Hikam, said the government must explicitly announce that Indonesia is certain to go nuclear and support this with regulations.

"The further acquisition and development of nuclear technology is inevitable for Indonesia. We used to be the leading country in Asia in the acquisition of nuclear technology. Many countries, such as Pakistan, Thailand, South Korea and even Japan, once learned from us, but now we have to learn from them," said Hikam, who is also a member of the Expert Commission on Nuclear Power.

Hikam recommended the government manage the current row over the nuclear plant wisely, adding that public policies tend to have more social aspects than technical aspects for consideration.(02)

Pessimism over severance pay draft reg

Tuesday, June 26, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo) said Monday it was unlikely that the draft of the government regulation on severance pay would be finished by the end of June.

"We have gone through various negotiations regarding the amount to be paid, but we have yet to reach an agreement on an amount that satisfies all parties," Apindo chairman Sofjan Wanandi told reporters on the sidelines of a workshop.

Sofjan said negotiations among the government, labor unions and employer organizations, as stipulated by the 2003 law on manpower, had repeatedly reached a deadlock due to the range of interpretations among the labor unions about how the payment should be calculated.

"We have repeatedly calculated the severance pay in line with the provision in the 2003 law and we feel that if the draft of the government regulation were to impose more payments on employers, it would be better not to issue any regulation," he said.

Sofjan said that as long as employers were not charged too much, the insurance companies profited and the employees were sufficiently paid, the regulation would be accepted by all parties.

In an effort to make employer organizations stronger and to advocate effectively for a healthy business climate, Apindo, in coordination with the Dutch Employers' Cooperation Programme (DECP), the International Organization of Employers, the International Labor Organization (ILO) Bureau for Employers' Activities and the Turin Training Centre, held a workshop for more than 100 members of Apindo here Monday.

"The employer organizations at the local level lack the skills and experience (needed) to deal with the government and the unions, therefore they need to be open to experiences of other countries in order to compete in a global market," said Sofjan.

Citing a 2007 World Bank Study, in which Indonesia ranked 135 of 175 countries in terms of ease of doing business, Jan Karel Bout, from the DECP, said that employers and business associations in Indonesia needed to make an extra effort to improve the investment climate.

Alan Boulton, the country director of the ILO in Indonesia, said the workshop was a strategic meeting for Apindo at a very crucial time for Indonesia, because it showed recognition of the need to improve economic performance and the business climate.

"One of the examples of good practices is effective cooperation between employers, the government and unions to find solutions and to make progress in a whole range of areas. One of the underlying needs is to be able to speak effectively with one voice on issues," said Alan.

Masri Hasyar, the assistant to the director general of industrial relations and social insurance for labor at the Manpower and Transmigration Ministry, said that many enterprises in Indonesia had failed because they saw employees only as tools for production.

"It is important nowadays to build a more egalitarian corporate culture. Manpower policies should promote the viability of enterprises and create an environment favorable to enterprise development and job creation," said Hasyar. (02)

Monday, June 25, 2007

Govt told education overhaul needed

Monday, June 25, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

To address the core problems facing the educational system, the government must look beyond the national examination and address the root causes of the system's failures, an expert says.

Winarno Surakhmad, an education consultant with the Japan International Cooperation Agency, said many of the system's problems rested in a misunderstanding of national education's objectives, as outlined in the 1945 Constitution.

"If we want to address the problem, we have to re-orient the nation's philosophy of education. It means that we will not focus only on the national exam as the problem, but the whole education policy. The national exam is only a part of the whole policy, although it is a prominent one," Winarno told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.

He said the government and every stakeholder in the educational system should sit down together for a national dialog to redefine the main goals of education.

This, he said, will help end persistent problems in the educational system, and also stop the public and government from blaming each other over mismanagement of the system.

"What we've been blaming ... is not the national exam but those behind the exam. This is not a problem of teachers or students only, but it's a chronic problem that has been passed over by many administrations. This is not only the failure of the current government, but also the failure of the 39 previous Cabinets."

Referring to the violence surrounding the government-imposed national exam, including students committing suicide and vandalizing their schools after failing, Winarno said the problems were systemic and could not be resolved simply by evaluating the exams themselves.

"The national exam is the implementation of the government's interpretation of what the 1945 Constitution means by 'to educate the nation', but is it really in line with the (state ideology) Pancasila and the Constitution (as a whole)? If a student passes tests on mathematics, English and Bahasa Indonesia, do they really become intelligent?" he asked.

The national examination system has received strong opposition from Speaker of the House of Representatives Agung Laksono.

"Since the beginning, I have always said that the national examination conflicted with the law on the national education system. Therefore, I agree with the plan to evaluate it," Agung told news portal Sunday.

He said the national examination should not be the only tool for evaluating students, and should be reformulated.

"To solve the problem is simple; just return to the law on the national education system, which combines moral values ... and the national exam results."

National Commission for the Protection of Children chairman Seto Mulyadi said the commission started providing free psychological counseling after receiving calls from the public after the announcements of the national exam results for senior and junior high school students.

"It seems reported cases of stress and suicide are not as high as last year," Seto told on Sunday.(02)

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Intelligence agencies need public oversight

Saturday, June 23, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Intelligence analysts have agreed that without an explicit legal basis for the work of intelligence agencies, the state could be brought into conflict with constitutional and human rights norms.

This would especially be the case, they said, if the activities of intelligence bodies -- such as surveillance -- began affecting the daily lives of innocent members of the public.

"Intelligence agencies were created to protect national security, but because of their secretive nature, every country is facing the similar problem of striking a balance between democracy and secrecy," said Edy Prasetyono from the Centre for Strategic and International Studies at a launching of two books on intelligence on Thursday.

"Oversight is needed to find a balance between security and public freedoms, to hold intelligence agencies accountable, to strengthen democratic consolidation, to prevent self-tasking and to gain more reliable resources for (intelligence agencies') operations.

"Until now, many intelligence agencies have mainly focused on counter-intelligence. In order to prevent suspicion, the public need to know many things related to intelligence agencies such as their structure, tasks, funding, etcetera. It is also important to diminish public distrust caused by past human rights abuses."

The two books launched are translations of "Intelligence Practice and Democratic Oversight - A Practitioner's View" and "Making Intelligence Accountable - Legal Standards and Best Practice for Oversight of Intelligence Agencies".

The books were published cooperatively by the German Foreign Office, the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Indonesian Office and the Geneva Center for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF).

Earlier Wednesday during a separate discussion on intelligence agencies, experts recommended multiple oversight mechanisms for intelligence-gathering bodies.

Ikrar Nusa Bhakti from the Indonesian Institute of Science said self-tasking and past human rights abuses had justified the need for public oversight over the agencies.

"The most crucial oversight required is to monitor the agencies' special rights and authority, including covert operations and counter-intelligence, which potentially conflict with democracy and human rights," Ikrar said.

Earlier Wednesday during a separate discussion on intelligence agencies, experts recommended multiple oversight mechanisms for intelligence-gathering bodies. (02)

Regional administrations 'ignoring' green issues

Friday, June 22, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Regional administrations have failed to pay proper attention to environmental issues, a national meeting of green organizations said Thursday.

The problems have been inadequately addressed because there are few environmental offices in regions as the tasks and responsibilities of such offices had been attached to the local offices of ministries, it said.

"Many development policies in regions have ignored the conservation and protection of the environment. Many environmental problems have not been properly addressed as they had been handled by other agencies or joint agencies. Only 34 percent of these (environmental) institutions are independent," State Minister of the Environment Rachmat Witoelar told a national coordination meeting on regional environmental institutions here.

Citing a 2006 survey of regional administrations, Rachmat said that only 6.4 percent of regional administration heads were concerned about environmental issues, while 37 percent of them were a little concerned, 47 percent less concerned and 9 percent not concerned at all. There are 443 regencies and municipalities nationwide.

The minister named institutional problems at regional administrations, including unstandardized agencies, overlapping tasks and authority among agencies, a lack of quality and quantity of human resources in comparison to the complexity of environmental problems, lack of funds and infrastructure and lack of coordination among regional institutions as the main problems.

Sustainable development programs at the regional level could only be run by environmentally conscious regional administrations and people, and environment-sensitive councilors, said Rachmat.

Chairuddin Hasyim, deputy assistant for environmental institutions at the Environment Ministry said there were 13 different existing regional institutions handling environmental issues.

Hasyim said different recognition of the need to establish regional environment institutions occurred because many local administrations misunderstood a 2003 government regulation stating that regional environmental institutions could be established to handle environmental pollution and damage.

"They look at it as if there is no need to have an institution if there is no environmental damage or pollution. In fact, when we talk about the environment, we would be better off conserving rather than repairing the damage," Hasyim told The Jakarta Post on the sidelines of the meeting.

The Home Ministry is helping the Environment Ministry with the formulation of the main tasks and functions of a new regional environmental institution.

"These main tasks and functions will become a reference for the regency or municipal legislative councils in allocating appropriate funds for the institution," said Hasyim.

The meeting, attended by more than 100 local administration heads as well as speakers from regency and municipal legislative councils, was expected to come up with a commitment to develop independent agencies for environmental issues, to upgrade human resource quality and to provide proper facilities and infrastructure for these institutions.

Director general for regional development at the Home Ministry, Syamsul Arief Rivai, said environmental issues should be treated as key issues in development and that the chain of natural disasters hitting the country were not merely natural phenomena, but the results of human behavior. (02)

Anti-graft court bill vital: Experts

Thursday, June 21, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Experts demanded Wednesday the immediate enactment of the anti-corruption court bill to empower the court to achieve more accountable verdicts and encourage public participation in the process.

"The enactment of the bill is very urgent for the war against corruption and cannot be delayed as the techniques of corruption are getting more sophisticated over time," Romli Atmasasmita, a law lecturer at Padjadjaran University, told reporters on the sidelines of a discussion on corruption.

The Anti-Corruption Court was established in 2005, as mandated by Article 53 of the Law on the Commission for Corruption Eradication. In the same year, the Constitutional Court ruled that the inception of the court created dualism in the judicial system, and recommended that by 2009 the government and the House of Representatives should have formulated a particular law for the Anti-Corruption Court.

Romli said the public should effectively use the time allocated for the formulation of the law, or risk losing the chance to convert the bill into law as political parties begin to busy themselves for the 2009 general election.

Bambang Widjajanto from the Consortium for National Law Reform said there had been a misunderstanding of the Constitutional Court's decision on the Anti-Corruption Court.

"The Constitutional Court did not delegitimize the Anti-Corruption Court, but rather allowed lawmakers to prepare a legal basis for it as stipulated in Article 15 of the Law on Judicial Bodies that states that a court should be established by a law," he said.

Citing the UN Convention Against Corruption, Bambang said corruption not only posed problems and threats to the state in the form of financial losses, but also jeopardizes the stability and security of societies, undermines the institutions and values of democracy, ethical values and justice and damages sustainable development and the rule of law.

"Corruption is an extraordinary crime and it should be handled by a special court. The practice of corruption is complicated, but we have to create a simple legal system so the public can easily have access to it," Bambang said.

The bill stipulates that the anti-corruption court is a part of the general court system and will be the only court to try corruption cases.

Under a law for the court, the recruitment of judges would be more transparent as it would incorporate members of the public, academicians and legal practitioners in the selection team, Bambang said.

The panel of judges would be comprised of between three and five members and would depend on the complexity of the case, with the provision that ad hoc judges should outnumber career judges on any panel.

The court would also be obliged to regularly report its progress in the handling of cases, as well as its financial management, to the public.

The bill also stipulates that the Judicial Commission is responsible for overseeing the judges' behavior, while the Supreme Court is responsible for supervising the judicial process. (02)

AGO demands written verdict for appeal

Wednesday, June 20, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

With time fast disappearing to appeal the recent exoneration of two suspects in the Hilton Hotel corruption case by the Central Jakarta District Court, the Attorney General's Office demanded Tuesday that the court release its written verdict.

"The prosecutors who handled the Hilton case have told me that they have not yet received the required written copy of the verdict (delivered June 12) from the Central Jakarta District Court," AGO spokesman Salman Maryadi told reporters Tuesday.

The Criminal Code Procedures stipulate that a request for a Supreme Court appeal should be submitted within 14 days of the verdict being announced. After making that request, the applicant must then submit a memorandum of appeal containing the reason for the appeal within a further 14 days.

"(The delay in receiving the written verdict) will make it difficult for prosecutors to formulate the memorandum of appeal on time," Salman said.

He said the team of prosecutors lead by Ali Mukartono had openly and immediately declared its intention to appeal the verdict after its announcement, but has not submitted any paperwork to the court's clerk because it is still awaiting the written verdict.

"If we do not receive the verdict by June 26, on what will we base our memorandum of appeal?" Salman asked.

Due to the delay, prosecutors have been forced to base the appeal memorandum thus far on their own records and notes taken during the trial.

"We still have one week to formally request an appeal. If we note our intention to appeal now, we will have to submit the memorandum right away, even though we haven't received the written verdict yet. So we need to wait for the written verdict," Salman said.

On June 12, the Central Jakarta District Court exonerated suspended Southeast Sulawesi governor Ali Mazi and business tycoon Pontjo Sutowo for their alleged roles in the extension of a building use permit for 13 hectares of state land at the Bung Karno Sport Complex in Central Jakarta for the then Hilton Hotel.

The AGO claims the pair's actions caused the state to suffer Rp 1.9 trillion (US$206 million) in losses.

Soon after the verdict, Kemas Yahya Rahman, the secretary to the junior attorney general for special crimes, said the AGO was "deeply concerned and so disappointed" with the verdict, and would seek a Supreme Court appeal of the district court's decision as it still believed that Ali Mazi and Pontjo had illegitimately benefited from the extension of the building use permit.

Salman added that although several of the prosecutors who handled the case have been promoted to posts outside Jakarta, they could still be recalled for the appeal -- Ali Mukartono is now head of the Cilegon District Court in Banten province, Eko Bambang is now head of the Rembang District Court in Central Java and Hendrizal is now head of the Purwodadi District Court in Central Java.

"We can call them anytime we need to deal with the memorandum of appeal. Furthermore, there are still other members of the team that have not been promoted and can still consult on the case," Salman said. (02)

Attorney general drops indictment over Gorontalo sugar cane factory

Saturday, June 16, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Attorney General's Office has decided to drop corruption charges around the 2003 sale of the PT Rajawali III sugar cane processing plant in Gorontalo because it found no indication of corruption in the case.

Secretary to the junior attorney general for special crimes Kemas Yahya Rahman said after reexamining the case the AGO found no indication of illegal action causing losses to the state.

After the findings and as chairman of the investigation team, Kemas then requested Attorney General Hendarman Supandji stop efforts toward indictment.

"For the sake of legal certainty, we have to make this decision," he said.

"We don't want this case to be prolonged because (it would be) detrimental to the people being investigated," Kemas told reporters on Friday.

He said witnesses had confirmed the sale of the factory by the Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency (BPPN) was not against the law.

"The audit by the Development Finance Controller also found no loss to the state," Kemas said.

Former chief of BPPN Safrudin Tumenggung was previously implicated in the deal, which was suspected to have caused Rp 505 billion (US$5.54 million) in losses to the state.

Kemas acknowledged the decision to stop the case was risky, but said the AGO was ready to take the risk of public criticism.

"It's up to the public or interested parties to take action if they are not satisfied or if they think they have suffered a loss. Let's talk about law," he said.

Hendarman said he agreed with the case cancellation, explaining that he had previously requested the former attorney general Abdurahman Saleh drop the case.

Hendarman said when he was in the position of junior attorney general for special crimes, he had examined the case and requested the cancellation because the investigation team he led found no indication of corruption.

"In my current position, I cannot directly recommend that the charges be dropped," he said.

"Therefore I had asked the secretary to the junior attorney general for special crimes to reexamine the case and report to me.

"The result of the most recent investigation is similar to that of the previous investigation.

"I am not involved in this investigation and have no ethical (issue) recommending that effort toward indictment be halted."

Hendarman also said that article 82 of the Criminal Code Procedure stipulated any interested parties could file for a pre-trial examination if they felt they had been affected by the investigation. (02)

More trouble for former Bulog head

Friday, June 15, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The former head of the State Logistics Agency, or Bulog, has been named a suspect in a third graft case, this one involving 2004 rice exports to Switzerland.

Widjanarko Puspoyo, already a suspect in two separate corruption cases, was named in this latest case by the Attorney General's Office following a preliminary investigation by a team of five prosecutors, led by Sugianto.

"The preliminary investigation found that Bulog exported 50,000 metric tons of rice to Switzerland in 2004," Attorney General's Office spokesman Salman Maryadi said Thursday during a media conference.

He said these exports are believed to have caused tens of trillions of rupiah in losses to the state.

The purchaser of the Indonesian rice was Geneva-based company Ascot Commodity, N.V.

"The rice was sold at an extremely cheap price, much lower than the domestic price," said Kemas Yahya Rahman, the secretary to the junior attorney general for special crimes.

Kemas said the Development Finance Comptroller was calculating alleged state losses from the imports.

Five high-level figures from Bulog have been summoned by the Attorney General's Office to appear Monday for questioning as witnesses.

Salman would only give the initials of three of the witnesses: BB, SA and HP.

On March 14, the attorney general named Widjanarko a suspect in a 2001 cattle import case that allegedly caused some Rp 11 billion in losses to the state.

The former Bulog head has been in detention since March 20 over this case.

Widjanarko and his brother, Widjokongko Puspoyo, who are both being detained at Cipinang Penitentiary in East Jakarta, were named suspects in another corruption case involving rice imports from Vietnam.

This case involves US$1.2 million allegedly transferred between 2002 and 2003 to a bank account belonging to Widjokongko.

Prosecutors allege the money was a bribe from a Vietnamese company awarded a contract by Bulog to supply rice to Indonesia.

The Bank Bukopin account has been frozen. Several accounts at three other banks have also been frozen.

An investigation team at the Attorney General's Office earlier found a total of $1.5 million was transferred from the Vietnam Southern Food Corporation -- the rice exporter -- via the Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam in Ho Chi Minh City, to the account of PT Tugu Dana Utama, Bulog's partner in the Vietnamese rice procurement, at the Hong Kong office of HSBC Bank.

PT Tugu then allegedly transferred $1.2 million to Widjokongko's account at Bukopin.

A sum of money from this Bukopin account is then alleged to have been transferred to several accounts belonging to Widjanarko, his wife, Endang Ernawaty, and his children.

The Attorney General's Office has questioned Widjanarko's immediate family members over the case, including Endang Ernawaty, son Rinaldy, daughter Winda Nindiaty Djuanda and her husband Andre Djuanda. (02)

We have grounds to file graft case appeal: AGO

Friday, June 15, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Attorney General's Office (AGO) is drafting a strategy to counter a verdict by the Central Jakarta District Court that has exonerated two men of major corruption charges.

Suspended Southeast Sulawesi governor Ali Mazi and business tycoon Pontjo Sutowo were initially found guilty of charges over a land permit scam involving the then Hilton Hotel.

"Based on evidence presented in the trial, what they (Ali Mazi and Pontjo) did has met all the criteria for corruption. But unfortunately they were exonerated from all the charges," Kemas Yahya Rahman, secretary to the junior attorney general for special crimes, said Thursday.

The AGO said Tuesday it would seek a Supreme Court appeal of the district court's verdict as it believed that Ali Mazi and Pontjo had illegitimately benefited from the extension of a building use permit for 13 hectares of state land at the Bung Karno Sport Complex in Central Jakarta for the then Hilton Hotel.

The office is claiming that the pair's actions caused the state to suffer Rp 1.9 trillion (US$206 million) in losses.

Kemas said Pontjo had offered the building use permit as collateral to Bangkok Bank branches in Singapore and Hong Kong for a Rp 2 trillion credit.

"If the collateral was confiscated by the Bangkok Bank, won't the state have suffered a loss? We uncovered this fact to show the public that we are seriously handling the corruption case," he said.

Kemas said the fact of the building use permit being used as collateral had been presented during court proceedings.

"We have accurately, clearly and completely explained it in the indictment. But perhaps the evidence did not fall into the judges' consideration," he said.

"Therefore, the Attorney General's Office has the right to appeal the case despite the two defendants having been exonerated by the Central Jakarta District Court." (02)

AGO plans graft verdict appeal

Thursday, June 14, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Disappointed with the verdicts in two recent corruption cases, the Attorney General's Office (AGO) has said it will take further legal and administrative action to see that justice is done.

The Central Jakarta District Court on Tuesday exonerated Ali Mazi, the suspended Southeast Sulawesi governor, and former Hilton Hotel owner Pontjo Sutowo for their roles in an alleged land permit scam involving the Hilton Hotel, now the Sultan Hotel. Their actions allegedly caused Rp 1.9 trillion (US$206 million) in state losses.

"Although we respect the decision, we were deeply concerned and so disappointed," Kemas Yahya Rahman, the secretary to the junior attorney general for special crimes, told reporters Wednesday.

Kemas said the public prosecutor would appeal to a higher court because, in the AGO's opinion, all evidence had confirmed that Ali and Pontjo had committed an act of corruption.

"What they did has met the three criteria of corruption: committing an illegal act, enriching themselves and causing a loss to the state," Kemas said.

He explained that Ali and Pontjo had illegally obtained an extension for a building use permit for 13 hectares of state land at the Bung Karno Sports Complex for the hotel. According to the AGO, the permit was legally obtained for the period of 1973 to 2003, but was illegally extended in 1999.

The indictment claimed that Pontjo, the former director of PT Indobuildco, which managed the Hilton, asked then-lawyer Ali Mazi to help him obtain the building use permit from the National Land Agency despite not having received approval from the State Secretariat, which controlled the land.

"The extension of the building use permit was obtained without the State Secretariat's approval. That violated Article 22 of Government Regulation No. 40/1996 and also Article 4 of Regulation No.9/1999," Kemas said.

He added that Ali and Pontjo had collaborated with the former head of the Jakarta National Land Agency, Robert Jeffery Lumempeow, and the former head of the Central Jakarta National Land Agency, Ronny Kusuma Judistiro, who have also been named suspects in the case, to obtain the permit.

The AGO began investigating the case on Oct. 27 last year, when the Supreme Audit Agency found irregularities in an audit of state assets, including in the use of the Hilton's land.

Meanwhile, the AGO has discovered an error in the graft case involving Achmad Ali, a law professor and former dean of law at Hassanuddin University.

The indictment claimed that Achmad was involved in two separate cases that came under the jurisdiction of two laws. However, the prosecutor provided an incorrect time for the violation of the second law, Kemas said.

The error has caused the indictment to be declared legally null and void. (02)

Depression hits mudflow victims

Wednesday, June 13, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The results of a psychiatric survey have revealed an increasing trend toward mental health problems among victims of the Lapindo mudflow in Sidoarjo, East Java.

The survey of some 3,000 mudflow victims who have taken refuge in Pasar Baru Porong in Sidoarjo was conducted early this month by a team of psychiatrists from the Surabaya branch of the Indonesian Mental Health Doctors Association. It found symptoms of chronic depression among the victims.

"The mudflow is different from the tsunami in Aceh or the earthquake in Yogyakarta because it is continuously happening and nobody knows when it is going to stop. Unlike depression among the tsunami or earthquake victims, depression among the mudflow victims is chronic and progressive. This is exacerbated by the uncertainty of the government's response," Dr. Nalini from the psychiatric association told a seminar held by the Indonesian Doctors Association on Tuesday.

She said the victims complained of anxiety, sadness and sleep problems, which in turn could lead to a deepening of the depression caused by the loss of their personal effects.

"These problems should have been resolved in the early months of the disaster. The lack of treatment has led to a chronic depression," Nalini said.

The team also found signs of psychosomatic illnesses such as high blood pressure, a reduced appetite, oversensitivity and frequent quarreling between family members, as well as increasing marital problems such as divorce, infidelity and prostitution.

Nalini said the depression among the victims is lowering their quality of life, which is partly apparent in decreases in their "fighting spirit".

"They have been coopted by their feelings of powerlessness. They are only waiting for aid and cannot empower themselves. They are also becoming paranoid, easily provoked and influenced by any agitation. This is not only happening in Sidoarjo, but also in Aceh and Yogyakarta to some extent," she added.

Nalini accused the government of putting the nation's health status at great risk by repeatedly leaving many cases unresolved.

She said that rather than leave the mudflow case in the hands of PT Lapindo Brantas, the government should take over.

"The key is in the government's hands. PT Lapindo is obviously guilty, but the government is the regulator. It is the government that should be responsible for the people. They shouldn't wait until the situation explodes like a time bomb," she said.

Dr. Fachmi Idris, chairman of the Indonesian Doctors Association, told the discussion that health encompasses not only physical factors, but also mental and social factors.

Citing the World Health Organization's definition, Fachmi said: "Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing, and not merely an absence of disease or infirmity."

Having made slow responses and partial approaches to many manmade and natural disasters, the government has only created more social and mental health problems, Fachmi said. (02)

Public asked to become medicine watchdog

Tuesday, June 12, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Indonesian Doctors Association and Indonesian Pharmaceutical Association (GP Farmasi) have asked the public to monitor and provide information on ethical violations in the promotion of medicines.

The two associations made the request in a memorandum signed Monday in an attempt to ensure the availability of affordable medicines for the public.

Both will supervise the formation of a special team to process the information hoped to be provided by the public.

"We hope that with this ethical agreement, there will be no more accusations that doctors prescribe medicines that favor certain pharmaceutical companies that have paid them to do so," Dr. Hardi Yusa, chairman of the Indonesian Doctors Council (KKI), told reporters on the sidelines of the signing.

The memorandum lays out four points of agreement banning excessive financial provisions for doctors by pharmaceutical companies, including the providing of scholarships for doctors to pursue further education.

It also prohibits the pharmaceutical industry from providing doctors with gifts, incentives or any donations that could oblige the doctors to prescribe or recommend particular medicines in return.

One of the points read: "A doctor is banned from recommending that a patient buy a certain medicine for a commission from the pharmaceutical company."

GP Farmasi chairman Anthony Ch Sunarjo said the body would only be able to initiate administrative punishment, such as warning or canceling membership, to discipline it members.

He called on the Health Ministry and KKI to actively supervise and control pharmaceutical companies and doctors who fail to obey the terms of the memorandum.

"This is why we want the ministry of health and KKI to also sign this agreement, because they have some authority over the doctors and the pharmaceutical industry in Indonesia," Anthony said.

"The aim of this agreement is to accommodate various health problems. This is only an initial step and it should accelerate the application of the national social insurance system. Only through the application of the system, will Indonesia's health problems be resolved," he added.

He said pharmaceutical companies usually spend up to 60 percent of their profits on promoting new products in the first year, while taking the product directly to doctors costs much less.

Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari said the government, the pharmaceutical industry and professional organizations, such as the Indonesian Doctors Association, were responsible for the availability, equitable distribution and affordability of essential medicines.

"Medicine should not be treated only as an economic commodity and should not be excessively and misleadingly promoted. The government and all health stakeholders are responsible for ensuring that patients can receive affordable treatment," Supari said in a written speech read by Richard Panjaitan, director general of pharmaceuticals and medical devices at the Health Ministry.

The minister said she hoped the agreement could create a favorable environment and healthy competition in Indonesia's pharmaceutical industry to allow it to grow in line with the advance in science and technology. (02)

AGO utilizes new method in Munir case

Saturday, June 09, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Attorney General Hendarman Supandji said Friday that his office is utilizing a new method of collecting evidence for the case review of the murder of rights activist Munir Said Thalib.

"We are using a conditio sine qua non method, which means that certain conditions must exist before something can be assumed. We knew that Munir was murdered and we have obtained evidence that he was poisoned with arsenic, but we haven't discovered who poisoned him. There must be a reason for it. That is conditio sine qua non," Hendarman told reporters after a mass prayer at the AGO's mosque on Friday.

Hendarman said the approach hinges on the theory of causation, which is generally acknowledged in any criminal case.

He said that during the previous trial, the AGO found six possible causes for Munir's death, but had now discovered more than 10 potential causes. "The prosecutors will formulate them in the new evidence," Hendarman said.

Hendarman said the National Police is still busy collecting evidence that could further clarify the death, and that he hoped the case could be resolved before the year's end.

Meanwhile, Pollycarpus Budihari Priyatno, the off-duty Garuda Indonesia pilot who was acquitted by the Supreme Court of murdering Munir due to a lack of evidence, was questioned by the National Police for seven hours on Friday in relation to former Garuda chairman Indra Setiawan, who was recently named by the police as a new suspect in the case.

"I was questioned on how I got permission to go to Singapore and what I did there," quoted Pollycarpus as saying.

Munir died of arsenic poisoning on Sept. 7, 2004, while aboard a Garuda jetliner bound for the Netherlands after having departed Singapore where he stopped in transit.

Speculation still abounds on the exact location of Munir's poisoning and the identity of the individual who poisoned him.

In addition to announcing new evidence in the case and naming two new suspects -- Indra and Rohainil Aini, secretary to Garuda's chief pilot -- police have also named Raymond "Ongen" Latuihamallo as a new key witness.

The naming of Ongen has led to speculation that he could in fact be Munir's poisoner. It has been alleged that Ongen chatted with Munir at Singapore's Changi Airport prior to the activist boarding his next flight.

Ongen confirmed Wednesday that he saw Munir on his September flight to the Netherlands, but denied being an acquaintance of the rights activist. (02)

Parachuting faces usual funding problems

Friday, June 08, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Manado, North Sulawesi

The development of aerosport is facing a similar fate to other sports in the country, with cliche problems of insufficient funding and equipment, an official says.

"Parachuters can only improve their skills by having frequent training sessions. We have been left behind by many countries because we lack the facilities and training due a lack of funds," Air Force Chief of Staff Air Marshall Herman Prayitno said Thursday.

He was in Manado to officially close the second International Open Parachuting Championship Indonesia.

Prayitno, who is also general chairman of the executive board of the Indonesian Aerosport Federation, said the underdevelopment of parachuting in the country is partly attributed to dependency on Air Force facilities, especially the aircraft.

"Air Force carriers have to serve the nation's needs first... if we have some free flight hours we can allocate them for the development of aerosport, including parachuting," he said.

These factors combined have widened the gap between Indonesia and other dominating countries in the sport.

Prayitno said Indonesia's parachuters are currently only able to perform a 10-diver formation in 35 minutes -- a far cry from world champions from the U.S., who can perform a 35-diver formation in the same time frame. Russia managed to pull off a 44-diver formation last year.

Around 70 parachuters from Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Singapore competed at this year's event, which was opened by State Minister of Youth and Sport Affairs Adhyaksa Dault last week.

Despite the shortcomings, Prayitno said aerosport in Indonesia also faced promotional challenges.

"Parachuting has become an object of media promotion for some companies but there is still a shortage sponsors for the sport."

He said in order to promote the development of the sport, the government needed to support more parachuting events. (02)

________________________________________________________________ Category Winner Prize money ________________________________________________________(US$)________ Team Jumps 1st Team Australia 5,000

2nd Team Riau Air Force 3,000

3rd Team Garuda Jakarta 2,000 Women Accuracy Jumps 1st Endang Dwi (North Sulawesi) 3,000

(single) 2nd Ratna Sari (North Sulawesi) 2,000

3rd Eka Sari (East Kalimantan) 1,000 Men Accuracy Jumps 1st Kalengkongan (C. Java Air Force) 3,000

(single) 2nd Petrus (C. Java Air Force) 2,000

2rd M. Khalik (Army's Special Forces) 1,000 Women Accuracy Jumps 1st Team North Sulawesi 5,000

(group) 2nd Team South Sumatra 3,000

3rd Team East Kalimantan 2,000 Men Accuracy Jump 1st Team of Army's Air Force 5,000

(group) 2nd Team Yogyakarta 3,000

3rd Navy's Team 1,000

Pasuruan shootings 'not easily resolved'

Friday, June 08, 2007
Alvin Darlanika Soedarjo, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono said Thursday that the Pasuruan land dispute and subsequent shootings involving the Indonesian Military (TNI) and civilians would take time to resolve and was not a sign that the military has resisted reform.

"We all regret the shootings in Pasuruan. However, a cause of the problem is our congested population and limited space, especially on the island of Java," Juwono said after attending a conflict prevention seminar at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI).

The shooting in the village of Alas Tlogo in Pasuruan, East Java, involving Navy Marines was triggered by a land dispute and left four locals dead and eight wounded.

Juwono said the public should allow more time for the TNI and Navy chiefs of staff to handle the issue according to the law.

"We are dissecting this issue one by one," he said, adding that TNI has been involved in multiple land disputes dating back to the 1960s.

"The Defense Ministry and the National Land Agency (BPN) have been collaborating to solve the conflict.

"BPN head Joyo Winoto came to the Defense Ministry about three months ago to monitor the development of the problem, especially matters involving the assets of TNI, such as land near military headquarters, airports or other military facilities."

Juwono said there had been discussions on relocating military training facilities to outside Java, the costs of which his ministry would cover.

The minister also said that accusations made by several NGOs that the Pasuruan shootings signaled TNIs inability and unwillingness to reform were baseless.

Whether top Navy officials face questioning by the National Commission on Human Rights over the shootings for potential gross human rights violations, he said, would be decided upon by the TNI chief.

"According to military law, the Navy military police is investigating the case," Juwono said. There are currently 13 Marines named as suspects in the shootings.

Indonesian Military chief Air Chief Marshall Djoko Suyanto was quoted as saying by that he had not yet allowed the officers involved in the incident to be summoned by the human rights commission because the investigation was still ongoing.

Riwanto Tirtosudarmo, a LIPI expert on conflict resolution, told The Jakarta Post that a misuse of firearms had been committed by the Marines in Pasuruan.

"How come the firearms, which are supposedly used for protection, were used to kill people?" he asked, adding that the recent events highlighted the lax enforcement of a military code of ethics for weapons use.

"Many people in Indonesia tend to take the law into their own hands. TNI is still accustomed to its behavior during the New Order era," he said.

Meanwhile, in Manado, Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal Herman Prayitno said that all land owned by the Air Force would be certified in order to prevent potential clashes with locals.

"There are still many areas with the potential for conflict, but we are trying to solve these issues through peaceful means," he said during a parachute competition in Manado, North Sulawesi.

If peaceful means fail to resolve the land disputes, Herman added, then a process involving BPN, local administrations and the community would be kick-started. (02)

AGO, KPK join hands in Pertamina graft probe

Thursday, June 07, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

After three years of preliminary investigation, the Attorney General's Office and Corruption Eradication Commission will jointly investigate the controversial 2004 sales of two tankers owned by state oil and gas company PT Pertamina.

The initial investigation was handled by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), while the AGO became involved after a House of Representatives special committee recommended in February this year that it also take part in the case.

Kemas Yahya Rahman, secretary to the junior attorney general for special crimes, said Wednesday the AGO was prepared to launch an advanced investigation into the alleged irregularities surrounding the sales of the two tankers.

"In a meeting with the KPK yesterday (Tuesday), KPK chairman Taufiequrrahman Ruki agreed to pass all the evidence they obtained as soon as they receive the AGO's instructions from us," Kemas Yahya said.

M. Salim, the AGO's investigation director, confirmed that the office had enough evidence to warrant further investigation into the matter.

A spokesman for KPK, Johan Budi S.P., said all law enforcement institutions, including the AGO, were obliged to push KPK to conduct advanced investigations into cases it has previously handled.

"The AGO will not take over the case from KPK, as reported in several media outlets. It is only upgrading the level of the investigation and the KPK will fully support it with evidence," Johan told The Jakarta Post.

In 2004, Pertamina sold two tankers to tender-winner Bermuda-based Frontline Shipping Ltd. for US$184 million. The sales were approved by then state minister for state enterprises Laksamana Sukardi, who was also president of Pertamina's board of commissioners at the time.

The investigation team looking into the sales, which allegedly caused Rp 2 trillion (US$227 million) in losses to the state, will be led by Slamet Wahyudi.

"It is likely that those who have previously been questioned in relation to the case will be questioned again. The previous questioning was part of a preliminary investigation, while the next questioning will be for deeper investigation," Salim said.

The KPK began its investigate into the alleged graft case in 2004 but found no initial indications that the tanker sales had inflicted losses to the state.

Laksamana's lawyer Petrus Selestinus said earlier that an overlap in legal proceedings is evident as the case is being handled by two institutions. (02)

Constitutional Court considers rights court law

Wednesday, June 06, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Constitutional Court is examining the 2000 Human Rights Court Law, as requested by a former unit commander of the Army's Special Forces (Kopasus) convicted of involvement in the forced disappearances of activists in 1997 and 1998.

Bambang Kristiono, who served 20 months in prison and was dishonorably discharged for kidnapping activists, claims article 43 of the law concerning the ad hoc human rights tribunal by the House of Representatives contradicts the 1945 Constitution.

Bambang, who commanded infamous "Team Mawar", asked the court to rule that article 43 had no binding power as it infringed on his rights as stipulated in articles 24, 27 and 28 of the 1945 Constitution.

Bambang's lawyer, M. Mahendradatta, said an attempt from the House of Representatives on Feb. 27, 2007, to set up a special committee for forced disappearances was a form of political intervention in the criminal justice system which threatened the legal protection and rights of all citizens.

"Our target is to prevent any political intervention in criminal cases. My client is ready to be tried again as long as the trial is held in the context of a free and independent judicial power," Mahendradatta told reporters after the hearing.

He said the House of Representatives, as a political institution, should not interfere with law enforcement.

Judge H.A.S. Natabaya said it was unclear as to whether article 43 had infringed on the constitutional rights of the plaintiff.

"Article 43 relates to the formulation of the ad hoc committee on the forced disappearances of 1997-1998... it has nothing to do with the constitutional rights of a citizen," Natabaya said.

"It seems that the plaintiff is the one with the issue. The court does not examine people's anxiety... it only examines whether a citizen's constitutional rights have been harmed by law."

However, Judge Natabaya said the plaintiff's team of lawyers argue that article 43 infringed their client's rights, such as the nebis in idem principle, which states a person cannot be tried a second time for the same crime.

Judge Laica Marzuki advised the team of lawyers to revise the application with a clearer explanation of how the plaintiff's constitutional rights had been infringed upon.

Answering the judges' claims that the application was predominantly based on speculation, Mahendradatta told the court the team of lawyers had obtained documents explaining that Bambang Kristiono was to be summoned by the House of Representatives's special committee. The team said it could not attach the document to the application as it was classified information.

The court has allowed the team of lawyers to submit a revision of their application within 14 days. (02)

Regional government law under scrutiny

Wednesday, June 06, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

A legislator who once served time for attempted murder requested Tuesday the Constitutional Court review the Law on Regional Administration in order to allow him to participate in a regency election.

Muhlis Matu, a member of the Takalar regency legislative council in South Sulawesi, claims that Article 58 of Law No. 32/2004 infringes on his rights to run as a candidate for deputy regent in the local election.

The article states a person who has been imprisoned for more than five years cannot become a candidate in a local election.

"This article discriminates against my client because it bans any person from running for office if that person has been imprisoned for more than five years. In our opinion, the limitation of participation should be based on the kind of crime and not on the length of the prison term," Muhlis' lawyer, Januardi Haribowo, told reporters after the hearing Tuesday.

Citing as an example the nation's founding fathers who had been imprisoned during colonial times, Januardi said a person having served five years or more is not necessarily a hardened criminal and is not necessarily dangerous to the state or the people.

"It also has been proven that the local people have accepted him. They even elected him as a regency council legislator," Januardi said.

He cited the fact that Muhlis' candidacy for the legislature had never been questioned. It was not until he decided to run for the post of deputy regent that his criminal record came into question.

Muhlis was imprisoned for nine years in 1982 and after serving five years, he was released in 1987. He had been imprisoned for attempted murder stemming from his adherence to the local tradition of siri (revenge).

"Siri is a powerful tradition of defending someone's dignity and honor among the Makassarese. Someone will feel very ashamed if he does not defend his dignity," Januardi said.

Januardi also claimed the 2004 law contradicted articles 27 and 28 of the 1945 Constitution, which assure equality before the law and assure that all people should be free from discrimination.

In response to the application for review, Judge I Dewa Gde Palguna said the application was clear and systematic, but Muhlis' team of lawyers needed to cite more appropriate definitions of discrimination as stated in the 2000 Law on human rights, and also needed to provide more explanation about the plaintiff's reasons for attempting to take revenge.

Januardi said the team of lawyers would immediately revise the application and submit it to the court as they had to meet the deadline for candidacy applications at the end of June. (02)

Military-business link root of all evil: Activists

Tuesday, June 05, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Rights activists have asked the President to issue a decree nationalizing all commercial military interests, claiming military involvement in business is the root of rights violations against civilians.

Commenting on last week's deadly shooting in Alas Tlogo village, East Java, Sri Yunanto, the director of the Institute for Defense Security and Peace Studies, said the conflict was not only a land dispute but also a conflict between the military's business interests and the interests of the people.

"We saw the obvious misuse of military assets for business purposes and the misuse of the state apparatus to protect that business. These things are the root of the problem that led to the shooting," Yunanto told reporters Monday.

"The President's political stance on speeding up the formulation of a decree on a national team for the takeover of TNI (Indonesian military) businesses is very important in the reformation of the military, especially in order to get the military out of the business sector," he said.

The Defense Ministry should identify all military business assets in order to terminate the military's commercial interests as required by Law No. 34/2004 on the TNI, which prohibits the TNI and all of its members from taking part in business activities, said Yunanto.

The Pasuruan case is just one of many incidents in which state assets were misused to serve the business interests of the military, according to Yunanto. Such incidents can potentially lead to conflicts and human rights abuses, he added.

Yunanto called on the TNI to investigate the shooting case in the civil court system and not in the military court, as the case revolves around allegations of human rights abuses.

In a similar tone, Bambang Widodo Umar, a lecturer at the University of Indonesia, said the National Police should have been actively involved in the initial investigation into the case and should not have let the Navy's military police conduct the investigation on their own.

"The domain of the case is the police domain because it involves civilians. The police should have been braver about launching an investigation, even though the case involves the military," Bambang said.

He said the police should also investigate the case to balance interpretations of what happened.

"The Navy can investigate the case, but the police must also investigate it in order to serve the civilian's interests. This would prevent any claim of subjectivity on the part of any institution," said Bambang, adding that the shooting case shows that military reform has been half-hearted.

"This means TNI structural reform is not working. Conflicts between the military and civilians are happening everywhere. The TNI should not be involved in everything. Let law enforcement institutions, such as the police and the courts, be responsible for law enforcement," Bambang said.(02)