Tuesday, March 31, 2009

North Korea’s Missile Launch: The Risks of Overreaction

North Korea’s Missile Launch: The Risks of Overreaction

Seoul/Brussels, 31 March 2009: A tough response to North Korea’s rocket launch would likely result in the demise of the talks to end its nuclear program and could risk a potentially devastating war, damaging to South Korea, Japan and the world economy.

North Korea’s Missile Launch: The Risks of Overreaction,* the latest report from the International Crisis Group, examines North Korea’s provocation and the way it leaves Japan, South Korea and the U.S. few good options. The prospective launch fits a pattern of North Korean attention-seeking when faced with stresses at home, political changes abroad or failure to get what it wants in negotiations.

“Even if the missile launch test is successful, it would only slightly increase security risks, while an overblown response would likely jeopardise the Six-Party Talks to end North Korea’s nuclear program”, says Gareth Evans, Crisis Group’s President. “What is needed is a calm, coordinated response from the key actors to raise pressure on Pyongyang to return to the talks rather than a divided reaction that only fulfils the North’s desire to widen splits among its neighbours.”

Security Council Resolution 1695 demands that North Korea not launch any missile, but Pyongyang argues – with support from some Security Council members – that this does not extend to a satellite rocket launch permitted under the Outer Space Treaty, and the legal issues are inconclusive.

An overreaction to the test that prompts the North to abandon the Six-Party Talks would strengthen hardliners in Pyongyang. The other five members of the Six-Party Talks should agree to a moderate set of measures that maintains their unity in the face of North Korea’s provocation. They could do this by issuing a joint statement condemning the launch as provocative in the current tense climate, reaffirming Security Council Resolutions 1695 and 1718, and demanding that North Korea return to the Six-Party Talks.

South Korea, the United States and Japan should agree on an overall package deal in exchange for major steps forward in nuclear and missile disarmament. Such a deal should be presented by a high-level U.S. envoy sent to meet Kim Jong-Il in Pyongyang, and then be endorsed in the six-party process.

“If the launch does take place, the best outcome for the international community is simply for it to fail, as an earlier test did”, says Daniel Pinkston, Crisis Group’s North East Asia Deputy Project Director. “If the rocket is shot down by either Japan or the U.S., the North Koreans would see this as a sign of Tokyo and Washington’s implacable hostility and almost certainly withdraw from the Six-Party Talks.”

The International Crisis Group (Crisis Group) is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organisation covering some 60 crisis-affected countries and territories across four continents, working through field-based analysis and high-level advocacy to prevent and resolve deadly conflict.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Bali Updates

BALI UPDATE #655 - 30 March 2009

This is One Virgin Who Gets Around
Virgin Blue Increases Services to Bali from 5 Australian Gateways

Virgin Blue have announced their intention to increase their flight frequencies to Bali, effective June 1, 2009. The added flights to accommodate the strong arrival numbers from Oz to Bali, include :
• A direct flight from Sydney to Bali operating twice each week on Mondays and Fridays.
• A direct flight from Melbourne to Bali operating three times each week on Tuesday, Thursdays and Sundays.
• Flights from Adelaide to Bali will increase from twice to three times each week.
• The airline will continue its services from Brisbane and Perth to Bali.
Brett Godfrey, the CEO of Virgin Blue told the press: “Indonesia was Pacific Blue’s first foray in to the Asian region and its close proximity to Australia is a big draw card for people keen to take a ‘mini-break’ without breaking the bank. Holiday package prices are at the lowest they have been for two decades so it is providing ideal opportunities for some great deals, not just in the air but also on arrival in Bali.”

Bali Named World’s Best Spa Destination
Bali’s Governor Pastika Welcomes Award While Warning that Island’s Quality Under Threat.

During the course of Indonesia’s participation at International Tourism Bourse (ITB) in Germany, the Berlin-based fitness magazine Senses presented an award naming Bali as the World’s Best Spa Destination 2009.
Bali was selected after a review by a panel of 200 spa experts and the award was handed to Sapta Nirwandar, the Director General of Marketing for the Indonesian Department of Culture and Tourism at ITB. The award was then delivered to Bali and presented to Bali’s governor by the Culture and Tourism Minister Jero Wacil.
Governor Made Mangku Pastika accepted the award and congratulations of the Minister on behalf of the Balinese people, stating that the award is another in along list of honors bestowed on Bali by international travel publications.
Quoted in Jakarta Post, Pastika deflated any momentary joy brought by the German award, warning that Bali tourism is beset with many problems, such as garbage, traffic jams, flooding, unlicensed travel agents, illegal villas, long lines at visa counters and illegal retributions aimed at visitors.
"There are a lot of problems that we must cope with to improve and enhance our tourism industry. Defending an award is a lot harder than getting it in the first place," Pastika wared.

Before the Parade Passes By
Peaceful Ogoh-Ogoh Parades in Bali Defy Official Requests to Suspend Spirited Street Parades on the Eve of 'Nyepi.'

Despite official requests to suspend traditional ogoh-ogoh parades as part of this year’s Nyepi celebrations, the lively hoisting of papier-mâché floats through local streets of Bali was still in evidence in various parts of the island. Local officials and Hindu leaders, concerned that the lively rivalry between local villages had the potential of spilling over into inter-party violence in the lead-up period to the April 9th elections, asked Balinese banjars to suspend the much-loved ogoh-ogoh activities this year.
A case in point was the village of Kuta which shares its real estate with Bali’s busy shopping and night-life mecca. No less that 13 banjar or local community organizations launched ogoh ogoh on Wednesday night, March 25, 2009, to the amusement of local residents and island visitors alike.
In Kuta the traditional parade started at 7:00 p.m. staring on Jalan Legian, in front of Banjar Pengabetan Kuta, ending in front of the Kuta Art Market. One-by-one, the colorful floats passed by a critical eye of a seated jury tasked to pick the best effort. Local community pecalang charged with keeping the peace did their job with the parade passing without significant incident. Assisting the volunteer peace officers were uniformed policemen from the Kuta police precinct.
All this happened against the cacophony of homes where gongs, tin cans and gongs were struck by families seeking to exorcise evil spirits on the eve of the New Year. Torches and small fires willed local compounds, foreshadowing the fires that would consume the ogoh ogoh floats at the end of the evening, putting final flight to Bhuta Kala, the Balinese take on Metistopholes.
Related Articles
[Marching to the Sound of a Different Drummer]
[Don’t Rain on my Parade]
[There’s a Kind of Hush, All Over the Isle]

Intrigue at Denpasar's Royal Palace?
Denpasar King to be Questioned in Case of Suspected Criminal Fraud by Bali Police.

Radar Bali reports that the Raja of Denpasar, Ida Djokorda Ngurah Jambe Pemecutan, also know as Tjokorda Ngirah Mayun Smairana, is under threat of criminal prosecution by a local travel agent claiming the “king” has caused damages equaling Rp. 18 billion (US$1.6 million).
PT Maestro Wisatama Indonesia has filed a formal police complaint against Tjokorda following the delivery of an official ”somasi” letter seeking settlement from the Denpasar palace.
Tjokorda, a former member of the management board of the Forum Silaturahmi Keraton Se-Nusantara (FSK) - a grouping of royal households from across the Indonesian archipelago, is accused of criminally committing frauds, concealment and the falsification of documents in connection with a planned tour of FSK to Europe March 9-27, 2009. The Denpasar travel agent claims that the failure of Tjokorda to notify them in a timely matter of the cancellation of a tour of former royalty accompanied by traditional dancers and orchestra resulted in the loss of money expended preparing the trip and booking deposits made with hotels and airlines.
A source at the Bali police headquarter told the press that Tjokorda would be called for police interviews shortly after the Nyepi celebrations.

Bali Records Two More Rabies Fatality
Latest Victims Bitten by Dogs in South Bali in November and December 2008.

Rabies in Bali has claimed another victim. I Nyoman Jama Asmara, 46, died at in the isolation ward of Sanglah’s General Hospital on Monday, March 23, 2009, after being hospitalized for one day. A resident of Jalan Uluwatu, Banjar Kaug Pecatu, on the Ungasan peninsula in south Bali, was confirmed by hospital officials as clinically positive for the deadly disease, who was admitted after initially exhibiting a throat infection, fits of anger, and phobias towards water and wind.
According to Radar Bali, Asmara succumbed to the disease despite receiving anti-rabies shots three months again after being bitten by a dog. Doctors are blaming Asmara’s failure to undergo the complete three-shot therapy which allowed the disease to manifest and eventually claim the man’s life.
Local legislators are making statements critical of the passive response to suspected rabies cases displayed by local health officials.
Asmara’s death is counted as the 8th fatality traced to the current outbreak of rabies on the island of Bali.

The Russians are Coming!
Government Announces New Moscow-Bali Flights Service by Transaero Airlines.

Government Announces New Moscow-Bali Flights Service by Trasaero Airlines. Bisnis.com reports that Russian Transaero Airlines will soon commence flights between Moscow and Bali in order to serve the growing demand for Bali holidays from their home market.
Founded in 1991, Transearo is the second largest Russian international carrier with a fleet of 42 airplanes flying to 86 destinations.
The new service, announced by Indonesia’s Director General of Tourism Marketing, Sapta Nirwandar while he was attending the International Tourism Bourse (ITB) in Berlin, is intended to help the Country realize the targeted 70,000 Russian tourists for 2009. In 2008, a total of 65,362 Russians visited Indonesia, an increase of 39.21% over the previous year. Russian travel to Indonesia is overwhelmingly focused on Bali with 58,233 coming to Bali in 2008.
In order to help Indonesia achieve ambitious arrivals totals in the midst of a global economic crisis, the government has granted “special” licenses to six airlines to add flights to Indonesia. The six airlines given wider rights to fly to Indonesia are: Singapore Airlines, Shanghai Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, Transaero Airlines (Russia), Firefly (Malaysia) and Hong Kong Express.

Garuda Flies Daily between Bali and Lombok
Garuda Seeking to Stimulate Australian Travel to Lombok Island

Via full-colored advertisements in Indonesian newspapers, Garuda Indonesia has announced a new Bali to Lombok daily flight commencing on April 1, 2009.
Flying Boeing 737-300 aircraft with 16 business class and 94 economy seat, the Garuda daily flight (GA436) will depart Bali at 1835 hours arriving in nearby Lombok at 1915 hours. The return schedule (GA437) will leave Lombok at 1950 hours, landing in Bali at 2025 hours.
The timing of the return flights will allow Australian travelers the chance to connect with the late evening return flights from Bali to Australia.

President SBY Seeks Voters' Support for 2nd Term
Campaigning in Bali, Indonesian President Sees Peace and Order as Key to Growing Tourism Industry.

Indonesia President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, visiting Bali to campaign for local Democratic Party legislative candidates standing in the April 9 polls and his own bid for re-election in July, pledged greater emphasis on security issues to help the country’s tourism industry grow.
Traveling to Bali with his Wife, Ani, and his Son, Edi Baskoro, the President was quoted by the national news agency Antara as saying: “"Bali would make greater progress and its security would be even more conducive. We will take actions against anyone wanting to disturb the security in Bali,"
Claiming his Democratic Party has been successful in delivering added prosperity to the Indonesian people, he pledge his sought-after second term to creating greater safety, peace and propserity.
Legislatgive elections will be held nation-wide on April 9, 2009. Indonesians will then go to the polls on July 8, 2009, to participate in the second direct election of a president in the naiton’s 64-year-long history.

Bali's Most Valuable Export: Hospitality Workers
37% of Bali Tourism Academy Workers Find Employment Overseas.

Bali has become a major supplier to the world’s cruise industry. To this end, American cruise companies are seeking to recruit 250 graduates of Bali’s Tourism Academy (STP), competing with hotels in the UAE who have also recognized the quality of Bali hospitality workers.
Bisnis.com reports that 50.5% of the current batch of 417 new graduates from STP have employment contracts with the remainder expected to secure jobs within 6 months of graduation.
Based on data tracked by STP, 63% of their graduates are working in Indonesia with the remaining 37% holding positions abroad. Overseas graduates of the Bali tourism school can be found on cruise ships around the world or working on land in countries that include Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Abu Dubai, Europe and the Maldives.

May I See Your License and Registration, Please?
Bali Police Tickets Net Rp. 1,2 billion in Fines and Penalties in 2008.

DenPost reports that revenues accumulated by local traffic courts in fines and penalties totaled Rp. 1.2 billion (US$107,150) in 2008. This translates into 92,436 violations that resulted in 89,689 tickets issued by police. The difference of 2,747 between ticketed and non-ticketed violations is accounted by drivers issued with warnings in lieu of tickets.
The breakdown of traffic fines across the island:
• Rp. 258.3 million from tickets issued by traffic police assigned at the Denpasar Police Headquarters.
• Rp. 135 million from tickets issued by the Denpasar traffic police.
• Rp. 138.8 million from the Bandung police precinct.
• Rp. 117.6 million from the Buleleng traffic police.
• Rp. 163.6 million from the Tabanan traffic police.
• Rp. 93 million from the Gianyar traffic police.
• Rp. 90.3 million from the Klunglung traffic police.
• Rp. 26.5 million from the Bangli traffic police.
• Rp. 110.2 million from the Karangasem traffic police.
• Rp. 80 million from the Jembrana traffic police.

Garuda Returns Temporarily to London
Indonesian President to Fly Garuda to London for G-20 Conference.

When Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono flies to London on April 2, 2009, to attend the G-20 Summit, he’ll do so on board an Indonesian registered aricraft operated by national carrier Garuda Indonesia. The President’s airplane will be the first Indonesian registered aircraft to fly over and land in Europe since the imposition of a mid-2007 “blacklisting” of Indonesian aircraft by the European Union (EU) who have delcared the country’s aviation industry, its planes and pilots as “unsafe.”
President Yudhoyono’s aircraft has been granted a special permit by the EU.
Indonesia has been unsuccessful in its efforts to have the current EU aviation blacklist lifted, despite strong praise earned by the Indonesian air carriers who have adopted IATA air safety standards and the passage of a new aviation law. EU aviation auditors have saluted efforts by Indonesian airlines while expessing strong reservations regarding the government’s ability to administer a safe and secure administrative system.
The recent replacement of the Director General of Civil Aviation [See: Clearing the Air] is seen in may quarters as the removal of a major obstacle to the eventual lifting of the EU Blacklisting.
Indonesian commercial aviation has operated for more than 2 years without recording a single fatality.
The President is reportedly tirn between attending the crucial economic summit of world leaders or staying closer to home to monitor a range of pressing domestic issues, including legislative elections on April 9. Some press reports suggest that the Presidnet will make an abbreviated appearance at the G-20 Summit, thereby Indonesia’s viewpoiunt is heard on a number of issues likely to shape the world econonomy for years to come.

Raining Ice Cubes in Bali
Weather Experts Warn of Lightning and High Winds in Bali Until May.

On Thursday, March 19, 2009, Bali’s capital of Denpasar fell victim to an unprecedented combination of heavy winds and hail that damaged several homes along the Jalan Pidada area of the city.
Heavy hail in combination with high winds destroyed the roofs of several homes, damage that was largely repaired within one day of the event. Because of the limited extent of the damage, Denpasar municipal officials are still considering if financial aid will be extenbded to the residents of the damaged structures..
Bali-based metereologists report that the hail storm of large ice particles is the first incident of its kind recorded on the island. Rare in tropical equatorial zones, hail storms are usually experienced in sub-tropical zones.
The storm that affected Denpasar lasted between 3 and 10 minutes, depending on which area of the city is being discussed.
Bali weather experts are blaming the ice storm on the presence of large cumulus nimbus clouds, strong winds and high temperatures.
More to Come?
A report in the Jakarta Post quotes Bali weather experts as warning of the possibility of localized tornadoes and lighting storms from large cumulonimbus clouds expected to form over Bali during the season shift of March until May. Well known and avoided by pilots, cumulonimbis clouds are vertical cloud formations that can soar thousands of feet in height with shapes that can resemble mushrooms or giant anvils. Characterized by strong vertical winds patterns, these clouds often carry lightning and thunderstorms.

Government Donates Speed Boat for Lake Batur
New Boat Part of Overall Plan to Make Kintamani Area More Attractive to Bali Visitors.

In an effort to draw more island visitors to the Lake Batur region of the Kintamani volcano, the Central Governmen has given a Rp. 600 million (US$53,600) speed boat to the regional government of Bangli.
As reported by BisnisBali, at a hand-over ceremony presided over by Indonesian Minister of Culture and Tourism, Jero Wacick said he hoped the new tourist boat would allow the Bangli government to realize the untapped potential of Lake Batur. Lake Batur is a fresh water lake that sits in the crater of a former volcano in the shadow and another, still active, volcano.
The new boat is offering tours of the lake, including views of the Bali Adat village of Trunyan – a unique location where the remains of dead are left exposed to the elements.
The area also offers outstanding panaoramas, mountain trekking and healing hot springs.

Bali’s Airport Comes Back to Life
Ngurah Rai Airport Returns to Life after its Annual 24-Hour Holiday.

After coming to a complete standstill due to the mandatory day of official quiet ”Nyepi”, starting for 24-hours from sunrise on March 26, 2009, Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport “re-awoke” on Friday morning, March 27, 2009, when Indonesian Air Transport IDA 110 left for Lombok at 8:06 a.m. followed by the landing of Garuda 340 from Sruabaya at 8:18 a.m..
In accordance with tradition and the law, Bali’s airport was closed to regular flights for the entire ”Nyepi” period.
While scheduled airlines cancelled their services touching on Bali during the “quiet period,” technical landings and emergency medical evacuations flights are allowed.
According to Bali Post, on Thusday there was an emergency request from Lion Air on a flight from Mataram (Lombok) to Surabaya requesting permission to land in Bali due to poor weather conditions in Surabaya. However, a sudden imporvement in the weather allowed the Lion Air plane to continue and land safely in Surabaya.

Higher Taxes for Older Planes?
Government Consider Granting Tax Incentive to Airlines that Maintain Newer Fleets.

Minister of Transportation, Jusman Syafi Djamal, has told the press that he is considering asking for higher tax rates for older planes operated by Indonesian air carriers as an incentive to drive a modernization of the country’s air armada.
Behind the Minister’s plan is the view that older aircraft are more frequently involved in “incidents” in Indonesia and have poor operating efficiencies.
Quoted in the Bali Post, Jusman’s proposal follows a number of flight incidents in early 2009 involving older aircraft, the latest occuring on March 25,2009, when a Boeing 737-200 operated by Batavia Air cancelled a flight due to a leaking engine. Two day earlier, a Sriwijaya Air Boeing 737-200 made an emergency landing in Batam with a single engine.
The Minister’s proposal has received the endorsement of the Chairman of the Indonesia Air Carriers Association (INACA), Emirsyah Satar, who also serves as the CEO of Garuda Indonesia.. Admitting that older airplanes are less fuel-efficient, Emirsyah argued that any airplane maintianed to a high standard is never too old to fly, but admitted the Ministers toold was a valid too to encourgae a younger national air fleet.

Cambodia: Khmer Rouge Trials May Expose US, China

Limits placed on a United Nations-backed war crimes tribunal in prosecuting surviving leaders of the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime may not prevent revelations about international actors linked to Cambodia's dark period.

It ranges from the period of Khmer Rouge history that the court will consider, a geographic limit to account for only atrocities committed by Cambodian nationals, and who among the surviving Khmer Rouge leadership can be hauled before the tribunal of foreign and local jurists.
Already, Noam Chomsky, linguist and trenchant critic of Washington’s foreign policy has fired a salvo ahead the opening session of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), as the tribunal is formally known. On Monday, Kaing Khek Eav, or ‘Duch,’ took the stand at the ECCC to mark the beginning of the tribunal, which comes 30 years after the extremist Maoist group was driven out of power by Vietnamese troops. Duch was the chief jailor of Tuol Sleng, a former high school in the Cambodian capital, which became the largest detention and torture centre of the Khmer Rouge.
Between 12,380 to 14,000 men, women and children were tortured and then killed under Duch’s watch. Many victims were accused of having links with the U.S. spy agency, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Only 11 people survived. In all, the Khmer Rouge was responsible for the deaths of 1.7 million people, nearly a quarter of the country’s population at that time, as they sought, between April 1975 and June 1979, to create an agrarian utopia. But, as Chomsky asserts in the ‘Phnom Penh Post’, an English-language daily, the Khmer Rouge’s brutality against fellow Cambodia citizens did not emerge out of a political vacuum.
Chomsky points a finger at leading figures of the U.S. political establishment like Henry Kissinger, a member of the late president Richard Nixon’s administration, who should also be held accountable for creating the conditions that paved the way for the rise the Khmer Rouge.
‘’It (the trial) shouldn’t be limited to the Cambodians,’’ says Chomsky in an interview that appeared on the weekend. ‘’An international trial that doesn’t take into account Henry Kissinger or other authors of the American bombings and the support of the KR (Khmer Rouge) after they were kicked out of the country, that’s just a farce.’’ ‘’The records say that the US wanted to ‘use anything that flies against anything that moves’ (during the bombing of Cambodia), which led to five times the bombing that was reported before, greater that all bombings in all theatres of World War Two,which helped create the Khmer Rouge,’’ he asserted.
Washington began flying sorties over Cambodia in the mid-1960s to crush parts of the country being used by North Vietnamesetroops. These bombing raids using B-52 planes were kept a secret from the U.S. public for years. During the Nixon years, from 1969 to 1973, an estimated 500,000 bombs were dropped, resulting in the deaths of close to 600,000 Cambodian men, women and children. But the relatives of these victims will not have their day in tribunals such as the ECCC.It stems from the limit of ‘’territorial jurisdiction’’ and ‘’temporal jurisdiction’’ written into the language of the laws to establish the special tribunal. Washington, in fact, had a role in a placing such limits on how far across geography and time the war crimes tribunal could reach when a law to deal with the genocide in Cambodia was being shaped in the early 1990s.
‘’It is the policy of the United States to support efforts to bring to justice members of the Khmer Rouge for their crimes against humanity committed in Cambodia between April 17, 1975 and January 7, 1979,’’ Washington declared at the time as it threw its weight behind the effort to investigate a grisly period of Cambodia’s past.

China, however, may have more to worry, given its direct role in assisting the Khmer Rouge during the period the ECCC is examining. Beijing reportedly pumped in a billion U.S. dollars to help the Khmer Rouge, in addition to providing other material and diplomatic support. The Asian giant wanted to draw Cambodia into its orbit to counter the growing influence of its communist adversary, the Soviet Union, and its Vietnamese ally. The current Cambodian government of Prime Minister Hun Sen, in fact, has grown nervous about the prospect of Beijing’s role during the Khmer Rouge genocide surfacing during the trial. After all, China has emerged as a dominant economic player, investing nearly 1.5 billion US dollars in 2007.

Hun Sen, himself, hopes to benefit from an initial decision by the ECCC to prosecute Duch and four other surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge. Such a limit will ensure that he and other senior members of his government who held roles of commanders or ranked as officials in the Khmer Rouge regime will not have to account for their role in the genocide.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Indonesia's unlikely – and steady – democracy

As it prepares for elections, the country outshines its neighbors

A decade ago, Indonesia was often written off by analysts as
unstable and perilously close to being dismembered piece by
fractious piece in the wake of the tragedy in East Timor and
ethnic and religious tensions throughout the vast archipelago.
But heading into national elections scheduled for April 9, its
democracy seems to be in pretty good shape 11 years after
rioting and economic meltdown forced out former President
Suharto, the strongman who ran the country for 32 years.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the retired general who took
power in national elections in 2004 on an anticorruption ticket,
has considerably solidified his position. In 2004, his
Democratic Party was a relatively minor force that forged an
uncomfortable coalition with the Golkar Party and its chairman,
Jusuf Kalla, who became Yudhoyono's vice president. Recent polls
(which can be notoriously unreliable), however, have the
Democratic Party with nearly a quarter of the electorate, if the
Indonesian Survey Institute data is anywhere near accurate.

With nearly 40 parties lined up to vie for hundreds of seats in
Regional Representative Councils or the 560 seats up for grabs
in the national House of Representatives, or DPR, the big
question is what happens after the elections, when the real
strength of the major players is determined and serious
jockeying will begin to for the presidential election to be held
in July, which will likely be followed by a runoff.

The game is complicated because under the election laws a party
cannot nominate a presidential candidate unless it wins 20
percent of the seats or 25 percent of the vote in legislative
elections – the only party likely to reach that milestone is the
president's Democratic Party. A handful of others – Golkar,
former President Megawati Sukarnoputri's Democratic Party of
Struggle, or PDI-P, the new Gerindra Party of right-wing former
Army General Prabowo Subianto – will be in the running to form
coalitions to reach the 20 percent threshold in order to make a
run for the top spot.

And here the Islamists play a potential role, especially the
Prosperous Justice Party, or PKS, which rose in popularity in
2004. While Islamic parties generally have seen their support
shrink by most measures, the complex electoral arithmetic – and
lack of any real issues other than flag waving and sloganeering
– could yet find the PKS in a potential presidential coalition
with either Golkar or the Democrats, both of which bill
themselves as nationalist and secular. That courtship began late
last year when the two parties both backed an unpopular and
hard-edged anti-pornography bill pushed by religious extremists
as a way to curry favor with potential Islamist coalition

Andi Mallarangeng, a spokesman for Yudhoyono, told CNN recently
that the president's support for the bill was a "symbolic
gesture" to Islamists. "During the process of legislation, [the
government] made sure we do not support pornography,"
Mallarangeng told CNN. "But there should be no limitation on
freedom of arts and expression"

Unfortunately, critics have said the bill undermines traditional
culture by proscribing traditional dances, could eventually ban
swimsuits from the beaches of Bali and may lead to rampant
vigilantism. The measure is being put through the courts by
reformers who hope to nullify it.

Still, Indonesia's imperfect democracy is in better odor than
most of the rest of Southeast Asia and there is little fear here
that serious mayhem will come from the polls, despite some
worrying signs of fraud in the voter lists in populous East Java
and continuing ethnic tensions in Papua.

Thailand is still suffering the after effects of the 2006
royalist coup that ousted Thaksin Shinawatra's democratically
elected government. The royalty and political establishment
there later annulled elections and supported street
demonstrations in its effort to finally manipulate the system
into putting in place the government it wanted, led now by the
Democrat Party.

Malaysia, after a surprising election in March 2008 that broke
the two-thirds majority stranglehold of the national ruling
coalition in parliament, has fallen into both intraparty and
ethnic squabbling and appears set to name Najib Tun Razak as
prime minister, despite his involvement in a long series of
scandals, including connections with the spectacular murder of a
beautiful Mongolian woman.

The Philippines is still trying to shake off the hangover of
2001's People Power II ouster of Joseph Estrada, which was
little more than a coup disguised as a big street demonstration.
That event just added fuel to the idea, as it did in Thailand,
that indignant elites do not have to wait for an elected
government to finish out its term.

Elsewhere, Singapore, of course, is Singapore, which maintains a
thin façade of democracy designed to keep the ruling Lee family
in power. Laos and Vietnam are one-party states as, effectively,
is Cambodia under Hun Sen. And Burma's military dictatorship
remains one of the world's most reviled governments.

Contrast them with Indonesia and things look pretty good. With a
certain amount of ambiguity, a new class of politician is
coalescing around Yudhoyono. The old guard that surrounded
Suharto, which viewed government as a personal cash register, is
losing momentum although all the major presidential candidates
hail from the old guard. The new government, if Yudhoyono wins,
will probably see a proliferation of the kinds of technocrats
like Sri Mulyani Indrawati, the finance minister, and Mari E
Pangestu, the trade minister, with fewer politicians around the

Golkar, the political vehicle for Suharto, was still the
dominant political party in 2004, with Kalla largely able to
dictate the terms of his support for Yudhoyono, including
putting in place old-guard cabinet members like Aburizal Bakrie,
the head of the Bakrie clan whose troubled empire has benefited
repeatedly from government intervention. Golkar has now fallen
to below the magic 20 percent of voters, according to the
Indonesian Survey Institute poll, and some party insiders worry
it could suffer a massive embarrassment on April 9, a fear that
has Kalla increasingly isolated inside the party.

Megawati's PDI-P has fallen to 17.3 percent, according to the
poll. The Islamic parties may have the lowest aggregate total
since Suharto fell, if the polls are close to accurate.
Religious parties got nearly 45 percent of the vote in
Indonesia's first elections in 1955, but they have slowly tailed
off, falling to 38 percent in 2004. Although at one point it was
expected that the country's four Islamic parties would get as
little as 17 to 23 percent of the votes, that figure has been
rising in recent days.

The best hope for moderates, say many observers, is for
Yudhoyono's party to get a clear win on April 9.

"The legislative elections will lead to a less fragmented
government for the 2009-2014 term because parties must have 20
percent of the seats or a coalition of 25 percent of the votes
cast to nominate a presidential candidate," said a knowledgeable
western political observer. "That means there will be far fewer
candidates, and a big party like the Democratic Party can likely
get that 20 percent on its own, thus it won't have to going into
a coalition with Golkar or anyone else. He can run with a
technocrat vice presidential candidate or senior Democratic
Party official, and if or when he wins, he doesn't have to hand
out any cabinet posts as a payback for the coalition."

Part of Yudhoyono's success has to be laid to attempts, not
always successful, to clean out corruption. The country's
Corruption Eradication Commission, or KPK, has jailed or
indicted at least nine members of the House of Representatives,
as well as a number of other senior government officials and
businessmen. The arrested include members of Golkar, the
Democratic Party, PDI-P and others. The house remains one of the
most corrupt institutions in a country tied with eight other
countries for 126th place in Transparency International's 2008
corruption index of 180 countries.

The economy, which was flattened by the Asian Financial Crisis
of 1997-1998, and hammered by the Bali bombings and the Asian
tsunami of 2004, which claimed an estimated 170,000 lives in
Indonesia alone, is still in positive territory despite the
current global crisis. Partly because its domestic economy
largely shields it from export slumps, Indonesia, along with the
Philippines, is expected to chug along at 4.0 percent gross
domestic product growth this year, while Singapore's GDP is
expected to sink by nearly 5 percent. Thailand, at least partly
due to political turmoil, could shrink by as much as 1.5
percent, and Malaysia's export-dependent economy is expected to
contract by at least 1.2 percent or more. That gives Indonesians
a certain sense of security. The malls remain packed; tourism is
set for a moderate increase.

Against Yudhoyono, Megawati, a listless campaigner and a
lackluster former president but one whose father's name –
Sukarno, the founder of the country – still inspires affection,
remains the front runner. Others include Prabowo, the former
head of the Army Strategic Reserve unit Kostrad and a one-time
Suharto son-in-law. Prabowo was dismissed from Kostrad for
mobilizing troops around Jakarta without orders following
Suharto's resignation, prompting speculation he was
orchestrating a coup. He's also been implicated in the
kidnappings and torture of student activists prior to Suharto's
fall, and of instigating anti-Chinese riots in 1998, charges he
denies. He was never convicted of anything, however, and his
well-funded Gerindra party is blanketing the country with
newspaper and television advertising. Jusuf Kalla, the Golkar
head, is making a nominal run for the top job, but he is given
little chance because he is an ethnic Buginese from South
Sulawesi in a political scene dominated by Javanese.

Is there a wild card? If the Democratic Party falls short, the
fear that it will sell its soul to the Islamist Prosperous
Justice Party, or PKS, is real. The PKS has built its support on
attempts to bring Islamic purity to Indonesia's pluralistic
society and vows to clean up corruption.

In 2004, the party endorsed Yudhoyono for the presidency and has
largely run rings around the other Islamic parties with a
mixture of savvy public relations and connections to the
Egypt-based Muslim Brotherhood. It was considered to be the
driving force behind the anti-pornography bill that Yudhoyono
signed. Secularists worry that despite its relatively small
size, it will end up as a kingmaker and the price of its support
will be hegemony over the social agencies that supposedly govern
public morals. But relatively few Indonesians, even among the 90
percent of the country that is at least nominally Muslim, want
the hard-line Imams to tell them what to do. It remains to be
seen what damage they might do.

It's a long shot and moderates of all stripes say it is unlikely.
Asia Sentinel
March 26, 2009

Business & Trade updates from Jakarta

- JG: SOE Minister Raps Waskita For Overstating Profits
- JP: Govt Mulls Higher Taxation On Aging Planes
- Table-Indonesia Cbank Absorbs 2 Trln Rph On Reverse-Repo Auction
- Unilever Indonesia 2008 Net Pft IDR2.41 Tln Vs IDR1.96 Tln
- Table-Unilever Indonesia 2008 Net Profit Up 22.5 Pct
- Indonesian Toll Roll Op. PT Jasa Marge Receives $667 Mln Loan
- Malaysia Reclaims Asean Top Spot For Car Sales In Jan -Report
- Indonesia's Telkom, Telekom Malaysia Sign Cooperation Agreement
- Bank Ekspor Indonesia To Receive $500 Mln Loan From Japan
- Bank Hana Indonesia Asks Shareholders To Inject $26.1 Mln
- Indonesia's Antam, Krakatau To Invest $63.5 Mln In Iron OreProject
- Sales By Indonesian Retailer Mds Estimated To Reach $238 Mln
(Courtesy Joyo News Service)

The Jakarta Globe
Saturday, March 28, 2009

SOE Minister Raps Waskita For Overstating Profits

State-owned construction company PT Waskita Karya has falsely
inflated profit and revenue in its budgets to the tune of Rp 500
billion ($43.5 million) over the past years, Sofyan Djalil, the
state-owned enterprises minister, said on Friday.

“Waskita needs to fix the overstatement problem over the past
few years,” Sofyan said, without elaborating further on the
disputed figures. “The problem is that the company was using the
wrong accounting system.”

Sofyan also said that his ministry was currently increasing
supervision of the 14 SOEs that specialize in construction and
would likely reshuffle their directors. Waskita’s management
could not be immediately reached for comment. - JG


The Jakarta Post (website) March 27, 2009

Govt mulls higher taxation on aging planes

The Jakarta Post

Transportation Minister Jusman Syafii Djamal said his ministry
was considering proposing a higher tax on aging airplanes than
on newer ones.

"Ideally, aging planes should be subject to higher taxes. This
is expected to indirectly discourage the use of aging fleets and
make airline companies aware of the fact that using old planes
is inefficient," the minister said in Jakarta as quoted by
Antara newswire on Friday.

The minister made the statement in connection with the frequent
occurrence of accidents involving old planes of late.

Last Wednesday, a B737-200 passenger plane of Batavia Air
developed a leak in one of its engines forcing it to cancel its
take off from Soekartno-Hatta airport.

On March 23, a plane of the same type of Sriwijaya Air made an
emergency landing at Hang Nadim Aiport, Batam, after one of its
engines failed.

But the minister did not say when the progressive tax on old
airplanes would be imposed. "This is an option. We want planes
operated in Indonesia to have a maximal age of 21 years," the
minister said.

He said it would be better if Indonesia could follow the example
of Singapore where every plane which had been in operation for
five years was 'put to rest'.

Djamal said that his ministry was encouraging airline companies
to merge in an effort to avoid stiff competition among them.

"Ideally, Indonesia should only have seven airline firms with a
fleet of 400 airplanes," the minister said.


Table-Indonesia Cbank Absorbs 2 Trln Rph On Reverse-Repo Auction

JAKARTA, March 27 (Reuters) - Indonesia's central bank absorbed
2 trillion rupiah ($174 million), as targeted, via a 21-day
reverse-repo auction on Friday.

Bank Indonesia conducted the auction, through which it absorbs
excess cash from commercial banks, by selling treasury bills
SPN20090731, SPN20100311, SPN20100218, FR0010 ,
FR0023 , FR0019 , FR0020 and
FR0026 .

Bank Indonesia held 21.56 trillion rupiah worth of government
bonds as of March 25, down from 28.24 trillion rupiah at the end
of February, finance ministry data showed.

Following are details of the auction :

Total incoming bids : 2.5 trillion rupiah

Amount absorbed : 2 trillion rupiah

Bid rate range (pct) : 8.15-8.21

SOR (stop out rate) (pct) : 8.15

Weighted average rate (pct) : 8.15

Settlement date : March 27

Maturity date : April 17

Frequency of incoming bids : 2

(Reporting by Sonya Angraini; Editing by Sara Webb)


Unilever Indonesia 2008 Net Pft IDR2.41 Tln Vs IDR1.96 Tln

JAKARTA, March 27 (Dow Jones)--Consumer goods producer PT
Unilever Indonesia (UNVR.JK) said Friday its 2008 net profit
rose 23% because of an increase in sales.

Net profit for the January to December period rose to IDR2.41
trillion from IDR1.96 trillion the previous year.

Sales rose 24% to IDR15.58 trillion from IDR12.54 trillion.

Assets at end-December at the nation's largest consumer goods
producer by sales rose 22% on year to IDR6.50 trillion.

The company didn't provide any comments on its 2008 performance.


Table-Unilever Indonesia 2008 Net Profit Up 22.5 Pct

JAKARTA, March 27 (Reuters) - Following are the results for
consumer products firm PT Unilever Indonesia Tbk for the year
ended Dec. 31, 2008.

(in billions of rupiah unless stated otherwise)

2008 2007

Net profit 2,407.23 1,964.65

Sales revenue 15,577.81 12,544.90

Operating profit 3,431.10 2,777.36

EPS (in rupiah) 315.00 257.00

NOTE: Unilever Indonesia, a unit of Anglo-Dutch conglomerate
Unilever Plc , produces soaps, detergents, dairy-based foods,
and cosmetics.

Analysts polled by Reuters Estimates forecast the company made a
2.42 trillion rupiah ($210 million) net profit last year and
would make 2.92 trillion rupiah this year. ($1 = 11,520 rupiah)
(Reporting by Sonya Angraini; Editing by Sara Webb)


Indonesian Toll Roll Op. PT Jasa Marge Receives $667 Mln Loan

JAKARTA, March 27 Asia Pulse - Two Indonesian toll road
subsidiaries of state company PT Jasa Marga - PT Marga Nujyasumo
Agung (MNA) and PT Jakarta Lingkar Barat (JLB) - have both
received a total loan pledge of Rp8 trillion (US$667 million) to
finance toll road projects.

MNA was pledged a loan of Rp3 trillion by Bank Negera Indonesia
and JLB received a loan commitment of Rp5 trillion by Bank
Mandiri (JSX:BMRI), Jasa Marga president Frans S. Sunito said.

The two companies have eight toll road projects in Java
including a number of sections of the Jakarta outer ring road.

The government has provided financial support of Rp4 trillion in
revolving funds to finance land clearing, the newspaper Bisnis
Indonesia said.


Malaysia Reclaims Asean Top Spot For Car Sales In Jan -Report

KUALA LUMPUR, March 27 (Dow Jones)--Malaysia reclaimed its
position as the top passenger car market in the Asean region
January, for the first time since the beginning of the U.S.
financial crisis last year, Bernama reported late Friday,
quoting the Malaysia Automotive Association president Aishah

Aishah said January passenger car sales in Malaysia rose to
37,801 vehicles against Thailand's total sales of 32,085 units,
followed by Indonesia with 31,567 units.

Total vehicle sales in Asean declined to 122,607 units in
January compared to 165,363 units in the same month last year,
Aishah was quoted as saying.


Indonesia's Telkom, Telekom Malaysia Sign Cooperation Agreement

JAKARTA, March 27 Asia Pulse - State telecommunication company
PT Telkom (JSX:TLKM) and Telekom Malaysia Berhad (KLSE:4863)
have signed a cooperation agreement to expand telecommunication
business in the international market.

Research by Telkom showed that the cooperation has a potential
business value of up to Rp2 trillion (US$180 million) in the
next five years.

Telkom President Rinaldi Firmansyah said the memorandum of
understanding signed here last Wednesday would serve as a
milestone for the expansion of mutually beneficial business
cooperation between the two companies.

The international cooperation will include in voice and data
services, international cable system and optimization of data
centers, Rinaldi said.

Details of the cooperation are yet to be discussed between the
subsidiaries of the two holding companies, the newspaper
Investor Daily quoted him as saying.


Bank Ekspor Indonesia To Receive $500 Mln Loan From Japan

JAKARTA, March 27 Asia Pulse - PT Bank Ekspor Indonesia, a state
export bank, hopes to secure a loan of US$500 million from Japan
to be announced in the G-20 meeting in London on April 2.

The bank needs the funds to finance exports and to increase its
capital adequacy ratio (CAR), its president Arifin Indra
Sulistyanto said.

The new loan would not be part of the loan pledge already
received by the finance ministry from the Japanese government,
the newspaper Bisnis Indonesia said.

Arifin, however, said the amount could be changed as both side
were still in the process of negotiations, including on the loan
interest rate.

He said the bank was expected to record a Rp2.5 trillion (US$217
million) increase in assets to Rp13 trillion by the end of this

Starting July, the function of the bank will change to export
financing agency with a new name Indonesia Eximbank.

The new function will allow it to have much greater role in
financing exports, Arifin said.


Bank Hana Indonesia Asks Shareholders To Inject $26.1 Mln

JAKARTA, March 27 Asia Pulse - PT Bank Hana Indonesia has asked
its shareholders for a capital injection of Rp300 billion
(US$26.1 million) to strengthen its financing capacity.

The bank Director Edy Kuntardjo said the bank needs additional
capital to finance business expansion although it still has a
high capital adequacy ratio of 40 per cent, well above the
minimum level of 8 per cent set by the central bank.

Edy said additional capital has been included in the bank
business plan for this year and the shareholders are expected
give their approval.

Last year the bank recorded a significant increase in credits.
Therefore, it needs more capital to keep its ratio from falling,
he said.

Based on data from Bank Indonesia, Bank Hana's outstanding
credit grew to Rp631 billion by December 2008 from Rp148.8
billion a year earlier, the newspaper Bisnis Indonesia said.


Indonesia's Antam, Krakatau To Invest $63.5 Mln In Iron Ore

JAKARTA, March 27 Asia Pulse - Two state companies will invest
Rp700 billion (US$63.5 million) in an iron ore project in the
area of Batulicin in the regency of Tanah Bumbu in South

Mining company PT Aneka Tambang (Antam) (JSX:ANTM) and unlisted
steel maker PT Krakatau Steel have established a joint venture
company PT Meratus Jaya Iron & Steel to run the iron steel
processing plant.

Krakatau Steel has a 66 per cent stake in the project and Aneka
Tambang has the remaining 34 per cent, the newspaper Bisnis
Indonesia reported today.

The plant with a capacity 315,000 tons of sponge iron a year is
expected to be operational in 2011, Antam President Alwin Syah
Loebis said.

Krakatau Engineering, a subsidiary of Krakatau Steel, has been
named contractor to build the project, Alwin said.

Work is already in progress in the project, he was quoted as
saying by the newspaper Bisnis Indonesia.


Sales By Indonesian Retailer Mds Estimated To Reach $238 Mln

JAKARTA, March 27 Asia Pulse - The sales of Matahari Department
Store (MDS), a business unit of one of Indonesia's largest
retail companies PT Matahari Putra Prima (JSX:MPPA), are
forecast to reach Rp2.62 trillion (US$238 million) in the first
quarter of this year .

The estimated sales value is 7 per cent higher than Rp2.45
trillion it recorded in the same period last year and overshoots
the growth target of 5 per cent set for the January-March
period, company President Travis Saucer said earlier this week.

In the whole of this year the company hopes to chalk up a 20 per
cent increase in sales exceeding the average growth target of 15
per cent for Indonesian retail industry, Saucer said.

The highest increase of 25 per cent is recorded in the sales of
footwear, or the highest in the last three years by the company,
he was quoted as saying by the newspaper Investor Daily.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

How China sees the world - And how the world should see China

The new world order

IT IS an ill wind that blows no one any good. For many in China even the buffeting by the gale that has hit the global economy has a bracing message. The rise of China over the past three decades has been astonishing. But it has lacked the one feature it needed fully to satisfy the ultranationalist fringe: an accompanying decline of the West. Now capitalism is in a funk in its heartlands. Europe and Japan, embroiled in the deepest post-war recession, are barely worth consideration as rivals. America, the superpower, has passed its peak. Although in public China’s leaders eschew triumphalism, there is a sense in Beijing that the reassertion of the Middle Kingdom’s global ascendancy is at hand (see article).

China’s prime minister, Wen Jiabao, no longer sticks to the script that China is a humble player in world affairs that wants to focus on its own economic development. He talks of China as a “great power” and worries about America’s profligate spending endangering his $1 trillion nest egg there. Incautious remarks by the new American treasury secretary about China manipulating its currency were dismissed as ridiculous; a duly penitent Hillary Clinton was welcomed in Beijing, but as an equal. This month saw an apparent attempt to engineer a low-level naval confrontation with an American spy ship in the South China Sea. Yet at least the Americans get noticed. Europe, that speck on the horizon, is ignored: an EU summit was cancelled and France is still blacklisted because Nicolas Sarkozy dared to meet the Dalai Lama.

Already a big idea has spread far beyond China: that geopolitics is now a bipolar affair, with America and China the only two that matter. Thus in London next month the real business will not be the G20 meeting but the “G2” summit between Presidents Barack Obama and Hu Jintao. This not only worries the Europeans, who, having got rid of George Bush’s unipolar politics, have no wish to see it replaced by a Pacific duopoly, and the Japanese, who have long been paranoid about their rivals in Asia. It also seems to be having an effect in Washington, where Congress’s fascination with America’s nearest rival risks acquiring a protectionist edge.
Reds under the bed

Before panic spreads, it is worth noting that China’s new assertiveness reflects weakness as well as strength. This remains a poor country facing, in Mr Wen’s words, its most difficult year of the new century. The latest wild guess at how many jobs have already been lost—20m—hints at the scale of the problem. The World Bank has cut its forecast for China’s growth this year to 6.5%. That is robust compared with almost anywhere else, but to many Chinese, used to double-digit rates, it will feel like a recession. Already there are tens of thousands of protests each year: from those robbed of their land for development; from laid-off workers; from those suffering the side-effects of environmental despoliation. Even if China magically achieves its official 8% target, the grievances will worsen.

Far from oozing self-confidence, China is witnessing a fierce debate both about its economic system and the sort of great power it wants to be—and it is a debate the government does not like. This year the regime curtailed even the perfunctory annual meeting of its parliament, the National People’s Congress (NPC), preferring to confine discussion to back-rooms and obscure internet forums. Liberals calling for greater openness are being dealt with in the time-honoured repressive fashion. But China’s leaders also face rumblings of discontent from leftist nationalists, who see the downturn as a chance to halt market-oriented reforms at home, and for China to assert itself more stridently abroad. An angry China can veer into xenophobia, but not all the nationalist left’s causes are so dangerous: one is for the better public services and social-safety net the country sorely needs.

So China is in a more precarious situation than many Westerners think. The world is not bipolar and may never become so. The EU, for all its faults, is the world’s biggest economy. India’s population will overtake China’s. But that does not obscure the fact that China’s relative power is plainly growing—and both the West and China itself need to adjust to this.

For Mr Obama, this means pulling off a difficult balancing act. In the longer term, if he has not managed to seduce China (and for that matter India and Brazil) more firmly into the liberal multilateral system by the time he leaves office, then historians may judge him a failure. In the short term he needs to hold China to its promises and to scold it for its lapses: Mrs Clinton should have taken it to task over Tibet and human rights when she was there. The Bush administration made much of the idea of welcoming China as a “responsible stakeholder” in the international system. The G20 is a chance to give China a bigger stake in global decision-making than was available in the small clubs of the G7 and G8. But it is also a chance for China to show it can exercise its new influence responsibly.
The bill for the great Chinese takeaway

China’s record as a citizen of the world is strikingly threadbare. On a host of issues from Iran to Sudan, it has used its main geopolitical asset, its permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, to obstruct progress, hiding behind the excuse that it does not want to intervene in other countries’ affairs. That, sadly, will take time to change. But on the more immediate issue at hand, the world economy, there is room for action.

Over the past quarter-century no country has gained more from globalisation than China. Hundreds of millions of its people have been dragged out of subsistence into the middle class. China has been a grumpy taker in this process. It helped derail the latest round of world trade talks. The G20 meeting offers it a chance to show a change of heart. In particular, it is being asked to bolster the IMF’s resources so that the fund can rescue crisis-hit countries in places like eastern Europe. Some in Beijing would prefer to ignore the IMF, since it might help ex-communist countries that have developed “an anti-China mentality”. Rising above such cavilling and paying up would be a small step in itself. But it would be a sign that the Middle Kingdom has understood what it is to be a great power.

West Papua - Jakarta nervous with groundswell building for another Plebiscite

also: Radio Netherlands: An Independence Fighter Returns Home To
Papua: To Talk, Not Fight

International Herald Tribune
March 25, 2009

Unease In Papua Over Leader's Return

By Peter Gelling

JAKARTA: Tensions arising from clashes between the Indonesian
military and independence fighters in the restive and
resource-rich region of Papua in recent months have been further
stoked by the return of the separatist movement's founder from

Nicolas Jouwe, 85, arrived last week from the Netherlands at the
request of the Indonesian authorities, who said they hoped to
begin discussions on a possible settlement of the decades-old
conflict. In a statement distributed by government officials
after his arrival, Mr. Jouwe said that separatist fighters
should help "rebuild Papua within the frame of the unitary
republic of Indonesia," suggesting a willingness to give up his
independence struggle.

But at a Friday news conference in Jakarta, Mr. Jouwe referred
to Papua and Indonesia as separate nations, saying only that a
dialogue should be opened. "We are close nations," he said. "We
cannot live without considering each other."

The apparently contradictory statements angered independence
activists, who greeted Mr. Jouwe's return to Papua on Sunday
with protests against his willingness to negotiate with the

On Tuesday, thousands rallied in the streets of Jayapura, the
capital of West Papua Province, demanding independence. Security
forces there, apparently fearful of the protest reaching an
international audience, detained four Dutch television
journalists. They were released after 12 hours of questioning,
according to local media reports.

The government has not commented on Mr. Jouwe's statements in

Mr. Jouwe's return comes after several months of sporadic
violence and ahead of parliamentary elections on April 9. On
March 15, the police said, separatist rebels attacked a security
post, killing a government soldier.

A small group of armed rebels and other independence advocates
have waged a low-level separatist campaign for almost 40 years.
Indonesia took over Papua, which occupies the western part of
the island of New Guinea, from the Dutch in 1963 and in 1969
formalized its control over the region by a vote of 1,000 Papuan
community leaders that was widely thought to be rigged.

Papua's development lags behind that of the rest of the country,
despite its huge stores of natural resources. It still lacks
basic public health programs and reliable electricity and water

As a concession to independence advocates, in 2001 legislators
in Jakarta passed an autonomy law aimed at giving the region
more local control and a greater share of mining, gas and timber
revenues. Human rights groups say the law has never been fully
implemented and a portion of the funds have gone missing in a
web of corruption.

"The special autonomy package in many ways represented a victory
for the independence movement," said Eben Kirksey, an American
anthropologist and Papuan expert. "But the renewed violence of
the last few months is evidence that the autonomy package is not
a solution to the problem. The autonomy funds have been
disappearing in a vortex — a black hole somewhere between
Jakarta and Jayapura."

Muridan Widjojo, an official at the state-funded Institute of
Social Sciences who has published a paper about the autonomy
law, said the legislation lacked legitimacy. None of the
stakeholders "politically or morally support the implementation
of the law," he said.

As a result, the administration of President Susilo Bambang
Yudhoyono is increasingly considering a settlement similar to
the one reached in the northern province of Aceh, which also
waged a decades-long independence struggle until a peace deal
was signed in 2005.

Ending the conflicts in Aceh and Papua was a central promise of
Mr. Yudhoyono's election campaign in 2004. His administration's
renewed efforts at peace in Papua come just before the
parliamentary elections and ahead of presidential elections in

The invitation to Mr. Jouwe, officials said, represented an
important early step in the peace process.

"Indonesia is a very different place now since we have become a
democratic country," said Rizal Mallarangeng, a spokesman for
the minister of people's welfare, Aburizal Bakrie, who was Mr.
Jouwe's host in Jakarta.

"We said to Jouwe: No longer will you be put in jail simply
because you have a different opinion," the spokesman said. "Like
in Aceh, we wanted to find a new path to solve these
disagreements in a way that everyone can accept."

Indonesia, a sprawling archipelago with hundreds of ethnic
groups, has a long history of independence movements. The
country's late authoritarian ruler, Suharto, brutally squelched
rebel groups.

But after East Timor's secession in 1999, the government has
attempted more peaceful negotiations with breakaway provinces.
With the peace deal in Aceh, Papua remains the country's last
flash point of separatism.


Radio Netherlands March 25, 2009

An Independence Fighter Returns Home To Papua: To Talk, Not Fight

by NRC international in partnership with RNW

After 47 years of exile in the Netherlands, Nicolaas Jouwe,
founder of the Free Papua organisation, has returned home. But
he will still not allow himself to be used for Jakarta's

On the island of Kayu Pulau in the bay of Jayapura, capital of
the Indonesian province of Papua, musicians are decked out in
coloured feathers, grass skirts and painted faces. It is their
way of welcoming their former clan chief to the island of his

The clan chief is Nicolaas Jouwe, 85, and he is immediately
hemmed in upon his arrival on the island. Every few metres he is
besieged by old women with red teeth from chewing sirih, betel,
who fall sobbing into his arms.

If it weren't for all the many security officers standing around
him, it would be just an ordinary emotional reunion of an old
man with the home country he has not seen for 47 years. But the
Indonesian government want to keep control because Nicolaas
Jouwe is no ordinary old man.

Morning Star Pin

In 1961, when Jayapura was still called Hollandia and Papua was
still Netherlands New Guinea, he was chosen as the highest
representative in the New Guinea Council, the Dutch colony's new
parliament. From there he was the first to give form to the
independence struggle. He designed a national flag, the Morning
Star, the symbol of a free Papua. And he was the intended first
prime minister of the independent state of Papua.

Indonesia is not fond of people like Jouwe. Since 1969, Papua
has been an official province of Indonesia. Hoisting the Morning
Star flag is illegal and anyone who still wants independence is
seen as a dangerous separatist by Jakarta. But now, in the
run-up to the Indonesian general election, president Susilo
Bambang Yudhoyono has personally invited Jouwe to come home and
hold talks about the reconstruction of Papua - within the
republic of Indonesia, of course.

And so Nicolaas Jouwe, with his Morning Star pinned to his
lapel, arrived last Wednesday in Jakarta. On Sunday morning, he
landed in Jayapura where, surrounded by journalists, he knelt to
kiss the ground. It was a golden opportunity for him to restart
his struggle for a better life for the Papuans and to see his
home land again. Since the Netherlands 'gave away' Papua in
1962, Jouwe has lived in Delft, on a retainer from the Dutch

Papua for the Papuans

"Papua needs its own country for its own people," he said after
arriving in Jakarta. Switching between Dutch, Indonesian and
English, he spoke about the 'banditry' of Indonesia. From the
fall of the Soviet Union through the drop in the British pound
to the Old Testament: everything points to the fact that
Indonesia cannot maintain its actions in Papua for centuries, he
says. Jouwe thinks the president invited him because Indonesia
is beginning to repent. "Even if we have to talk a thousand
times, it is better than violence."

But the agenda of the Indonesian government soon became clear in
Jakarta last week. One day after Jouwe's arrival, the health
ministry spread the news, without consulting Jouwe, that the
'founder of the Free Papua organisation' has given up his
struggle for Independence. He was going to call on the Free
Papua fighters, who had shot an Indonesian soldier just a few
days earlier, to give up their weapons. And during a special
ceremony, Jouwe would remove his Morning Star pin.

The election stunt did not work out as the government had hoped.
"Your pin, where is your pin?" shouted Junus Habibie, Indonesian
ambassador to the Netherlands, to Jouwe during a press
conference where the 'pin moment' was supposed to take place.
But in front of the Indonesian journalists, Jouwe refused. "No,
not yet," he said in Dutch. "Not today," Jouwe had earlier
shocked his listeners by talking about 'two peoples', 'two
countries' and 'our great neighbour Indonesia'.

Whisked off the island

This is why the Indonesian government kept a close eye on this
unguided missile for the rest of his stay. He was accompanied by
four Papuans - some of them family - who decided to work with
the Indonesian government and are therefore controversial within
the Papuan community. He met mainly with government officials,
like the governor of Papua and the mayor of Jayapura.

Interviews with the Indonesian press are not done. Two
journalists who managed to approach Jouwe in Jakarta were bawled
out by his chaperons - "Bloody idiot!" - and sent packing. Even
during his visit to the island of his birth on Tuesday he was
not able to speak with 'ordinary people' and before he could
visit the house where he was born he was whisked off the island.

This is why his return is not welcomed by all prominent Papuans.
"I think it would have been better if Mr Jouwe had met the
people and not just the government," says secretary general Leo
Imbiri of the Native Papuan Council. On a wall in his office is
an old newspaper article about the flag and the Papuan national
anthem with a photo of Jouwe. Imbiri thinks the special autonomy
Papua was granted in 2001 is not working. Legalising the Morning
Star is being thwarted by Jakarta, he says.

Imbiri can only observe how immigrants from the rest of
Indonesia gain more and more influence in Papua. On the road
between the airport and Jayapura he points to petrol stations,
hotels and shops. "Look, all of this belongs to the newcomers.
Those small houses from the Dutch period, they belong to

But Imbiri will not get the chance to say this to Jouwe. On
Tuesday morning, the old leader was forced to take an earlier
flight back to Jakarta.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Oil, Gas, Mining Updates from Indonesia

7 Reports:
(Courtesy Joyo News Service)

- Indonesia's Cirebon Electric Power To Receive $525 Mln In Loan

- JBIC Offers To Fund Expansion Of Indonesia's Muara Tawar Power

- Indonesian Govt, Medco, Lapindo To Supply Gas To Households

- Pertamina To Build $300 Mln Polypropylene Factory

- Indonesia's Pertamina shuts Cilacap aromatics unit Tuesday

- Pertamina To Raise Gasoline Inventory

- Indonesia Agrees To Japan, Taiwan, S Korea Cutting LNG Imports


Indonesia's Cirebon Electric Power To Receive $525 Mln In Loan

JAKARTA, March 24 Asia Pulse - PT Cirebon Electric Power, a
joint venture between local and foreign companies, is expected
to receive a loan of US$525 from a number of banks.

Cirebon Electric Power, which is 20 per cent owned by PT Indika
Energy (JSX:INDY), 32.5 per cent by Marubeni Corp. (TSE:8002),
27.5 per cent by Korea Midland Power Co. Ltd and 20 per cent by
Samtan Co. will build a power plant in Cirebon.

The loan fund from Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, ING Bank, Mizhuo
Corporate Bank and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. (TSE:8318),
will be used to finance the construction of the 660-megawatt
power plant.

Retina Rosabai, the vice president for investor relations of
Indika Energy, said the financers have not given official
commitment, but the company hopes the loan would be available

Retina told the newspaper Investor Daily the coal fired power
plant project to be completed in 2011 , will cost around US$779


JBIC Offers To Fund Expansion Of Indonesia's Muara Tawar Power

JAKARTA, March 24 Asia Pulse - Japan Bank for International
Cooperation (JBIC) has offered to provide a loan of US$900
million to finance the capacity expansion of the Muara Tawar
combined cycle power plant.

The expansion unit will use the cogeneration technology, a new
technology to generate electricity.

The tender for the cogeneration project of Muara Tawar will be
held this year, Fahmi Mochtar, the president of the state power
utility PLN, said.

The project is part of the second crash program to build power
plants with a total capacity of 10,000 megawatts, Fahmi said.

Meanwhile, Indonesia and China have agreed to strengthen
strategic partnership signed in 2005 on the implementation of
the first crash program of 10,000 MW, Finance Minister Sri
Mulyani Indrawati said.

Implementation of the first program to build coal-fired power
plants to be completed in 2010, will 90 per cent depend on
financial support from Beijing, the newspaper Investor Daily


Indonesian Govt, Medco, Lapindo To Supply Gas To Households

JAKARTA, March 24 Asia Pulse - The Indonesian government agreed
on Monday to team up with Medco E&P Indonesia and Lapindo
Brantas Inc. to supply gas to around 7,400 households in the
cities of Palembang and Surabaya.

The agreement was signed at the Energy and Mineral Resources
Ministry building in the presence of Energy and Mineral
Resources Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro, Director General of Oil
and Gas Evita Legowo, Head of the Upstream Oil and Gas Executive
Agency (BP Migas) R Priyono and Chief of the Downstream Oil and
Gas Regulatory Agency (BPH Migas) Tubagus Haryono.

Under the agreement, Medco will supply up to 1 million standard
cubic feet per day (mmscfd) of gas to 4,200 households in
Palembang and Lapindo Brantas 2 mmscfd to 3,200 households in

Evita Legowo said the companies will supply gas to the
households through gas pipelines built in the two cities using
the 2009 state budget funds allocated to the Directorate General
of Oil and Gas.

The gas pipelines are expected to be operational in December
this year, she said.

"The supply of gas to the households is the first of its kinds
to benefit from state budget-funded pipelines," she said.

The program accords with the oil and gas law and has received a
seal of approval from the House of Representatives (DPR), she

"Supplying gas to urban households is high on the list of the
national priorities in 2009 under a program designed to last
until 2014," she said.

In 2010, the government will build gas pipelines in the cities
of Bekasi, Depok, Tarakan and Jambi, she said.

Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro meanwhile said the cooperation is
aimed at fulfilling the need for gas on a self-reliant basis as
well as at reducing kerosene subsidy.


Pertamina To Build $300 Mln Polypropylene Factory

JAKARTA, March 24 Asia Pulse - State oil and gas company PT
Pertamina will build a polypropylene (PP) factory in Balongan,
West Java, this year.

The factory which will have a production capacity of 22,000 tons
a year will be built at a cost of US$300 million, the
association of plastic and olefin industries (INAplas) said.

INAplas secretary general Budi Susanto Sadman said construction
of the factory will come at the same time with the expansion of
Pertamina's crude distillation unit in Balongan.

The distillation unit will produce propylene, the basic material
for PP and ethylene through a process of residue catalytic
cracking (RCC).

The production facility for propylene is expected to be
operational in 2011 to be followed by a production facility for
ethylene in 2012, the newspaper Bisnis Indonesia said.


Platts Commodity News
March 24, 2009

Indonesia's Pertamina shuts Cilacap aromatics unit Tuesday

Singapore -- Indonesia's Pertamina shut its aromatics unit at
Cilacap refinery on Tuesday for a two-week turnaround, a company
source said.

The unit was supposed to be shut at the end of February for
repairs to a leaking compressor caused by a fire at the facility
on February 19. However, difficulties in procuring spare parts
for the compressor had led to several delays in the shutdown

Pertamina hopes to run the aromatics unit at full capacity until
July, when it will be shut for 45 days for a catalyst change.

The Cilacap refinery will concentrate on aromatics production in
the second half of this year, after the company's Balongan
refinery completes its maintenance in early May.

The Cilacap aromatics unit can produce 110,000 mt/year of
benzene and 270,000 mt/year of paraxylene. Production is at 90%

Most of Pertamina's annual benzene production has been allocated
to three domestic term customers -- styrene monomer producer
Styrindo Mono Indonesia, linear alkyl benzene producer Unggul
Indah Cahaya and maleic anhydride manufacturer Justus Sakti Raya.

Its paraxylene term customers include South Korea's SK Energy
and Tychem.

Chua Sok Peng, sok_peng_c...@platts.com


Oil and Gas News March 24, 2009

Pertamina To Raise Gasoline Inventory

Indonesia’s state oil and gas firm Pertamina plans to import
4.5-5 million barrels of gasoline in April, more than usual, to
ensure adequate stocks ahead of elections, officials said.
Southeast Asia’s biggest economy heads for parliamentary
elections on April 9, followed by presidential elections in
July, and the government is keen to prevent any shortages or
disruptions in supplies. “Pertamina wants to make sure the
domestic gasoline supply is enough, especially during the
election period,” said Anang Noor, company spokesman. Last
month, Pertamina appointed Karen Agustiawan as president,
replacing Ari Soemarno who was publicly reprimanded by President
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono because of problems at the state energy
firm. A huge fire broke out at a major depot in Jakarta earlier
this year, raising questions about security risks at the firm’s
storage facilities, while fuel shortages at several outlets in
the capital prompted complaints from angry motorists. There has
also been pressure on the government of Yudhoyono, who is
seeking a second term in office this year, to boost flagging
output in Indonesia. “For gasoline imports we are flexible, we
can adjust any time. But for April it is between 4.5 and 5
million barrels. We are trying to increase our gasoline stocks,”
said Achmad Faisal, Pertamina’s marketing director.


Indonesia Agrees To Japan, Taiwan, S Korea Cutting LNG Imports

JAKARTA, March 24 Asia Pulse - Indonesia will agree to Japan,
South Korea and Taiwan cutting their imports of liquefied
natural gas (LNG) up to 70 per cent of their total contracts.

The three countries which face a decline in LNG requirements,
have long term contracts with Indonesia to import a total of 1.2
million tons in 18 cargoes of LNG a year.

Head of the Upstream Oil and Gas Regulator (BP Migas) R. Priyono
said the LNG could be used for domestic industries.

State fertilizer factory PT Pupuk Iskandar Muda in Aceh could
use up to nine cargoes and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG)
industry could take up to six cargoes, Priyono was quoted as
saying by the newspaper Bisnis Indonesia.

Earlier it was reported the three countries may sell part of LNG
they import from Indonesia to other countries.

Hari Yulianto, the vice president of the state oil and gas
company PT Pertamina , said if they fail to sell the LNG, the
domestic market will have an opportunity to have larger supply
of gas.

Indonesia still needs a larger supply of gas to meet growing
demand for urea fertilizer basic material and other industries.


Business & Trade updates from Jakarta

Business Updates courtesy
(Joyo News Service)
- Indonesia's Feb cement consumption down 4.5 pct y/y

- Astra Target Raised 18% at Bank of America on Sales Outlook

- Jasa Marga Increases Stakes In 4 Toll-Road Subsidiaries

- Jasa Marga Seeks Go-Ahead for Toll-Road Purchases

- Berlian Laju 2008 Net Profit IDR1.56 Tln Vs IDR758.98 Bln

- Malaysia's Pantai Holdings Plans Indonesian Expansion -Report

- Catur Posts Net Profit Rise of 67%

- Nike Won't Relocate Its Investment In Indonesia: Minister

- Indonesian Govt Has Not Decided On Holding Co For State Firms

- Manulife Indonesia Posts 34% Increase In New Premium Income

- Indonesia's Artha Graha Posts 3.7% Increase In Net Profit

- Indonesia's Perhutani Seeking Permission To Export Teak

- Indonesia To Replace Chemical Fertilizers With Organic Ones

- Indonesian Govt Optimistic To Achieve Rice Production Target

- Construction Of Indonesian DDT Project To Start This Year


Indonesia's Feb cement consumption down 4.5 pct y/y

JAKARTA, March 23 (Reuters) - Indonesia's domestic cement
consumption fell 4.5 percent in February to 2.86 million tonnes
from a year ago, data from the country's cement industry
association showed on Monday.

However, the country's biggest cement producer, PT Semen Gresik
Tbk , recorded a 5.2 percent rise in total cement sales to 1.32
million tonnes in February, the data showed.

The firm, which has market capitalisation of about $1.8 billion,
previously said it expected Indonesia's cement demand would fall
this year due to the global economic crisis and a slowdown in
Indonesia's economic growth.

The data from the Indonesian Cement Association also showed
cement consumption in Southeast Asia's top economy dropped by
7.8 percent to 6.03 million tonnes in the January-February

Indonesian authorities have earmarked spending on infrastructure
as part of its 73.3 trillion rupiah ($6.24 billion) fiscal
stimulus package intended to create jobs and lift economic
growth this year.

The government expects economic growth to slow to 4.5 percent
this year, from 6.1 percent in 2008.

(Reporting by Sonya Angraini; Editing by Ed Davies)


Astra Target Raised 18% at Bank of America on Sales Outlook

By Shiyin Chen

March 23 (Bloomberg) -- PT Astra International, Indonesia’s
biggest auto retailer, had its share-price estimate raised 18
percent to 16,750 rupiah at Bank of America Corp., which said
motorcycle and car sales will decline less than earlier

Astra jumped 8 percent to 14,800 rupiah as of 9:43 a.m. in
Jakarta trading, the biggest gainer on the Jakarta Composite


Jasa Marga Increases Stakes In 4 Toll-Road Subsidiaries

JAKARTA, March 22 (Dow Jones)--Toll road builder and operator PT
Jasa Marga (JSMR.JK) said Monday in a prospectus that it plans
to increase its stake in four toll road subsidiaries.

The nation's largest toll road company by assets and revenue
said it plans to increase its stake in PT Marga Kunciran
Cengkareng to 75% from 20%, in PT Marga Trans Nusantara to 60%
from 30%, PT Nujyasumo Agung to 55% from 1.71%, and PT Jakarta
Lingkar Baratsatu to 50.97% from 22.98%.

Marga Kunciran operates a 15.2-kilometer West Jakarta Outer Ring
Road, Marga Trans operates 11.2-km East Jakarta Outer Ring Road,
Marga Nujyaso operates 36.3-km toll road in East Java and
Jakarta Lingkar operates a 9.7-km toll road in West Jakarta.

Jasa Marga said that it will finance the stake purchase in the
four subsidiaries through internal cash and funds raised from an
initial public offering held in 2007.

The company didn't give the value of the transactions. It plans
to hold a shareholders meeting on March 25 to get approval for
the deals.


The Jakarta Globe Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Jasa Marga Seeks Go-Ahead for Toll-Road Purchases

Yohanes Obor

State-owned toll road operator PT Jasa Marga Tbk said it would
seek shareholder approval at an extraordinary general meeting on
Wednesday to increase its stake in three troubled construction
firms tied to the stalled East Java highway project, as widely

Jasa Marga wants to expand its stakes in PT Marga Kunciran
Cengkareng, PT Marga Trans Nusantara and PT Marga Nujyasumo
Agung. It is also likely to seek approval to take a stake in PT
Jakarta Lingkar Baratsatu, and an option to take a controlling
interest. Jasa Marga said it would finance the purchases with
internal funds and the proceeds of its initial public offering,
in addition to tapping the government’s revolving fund for land

It said last month that it would start buying concessions on the
project, which will stretch 1,100 km from Jakarta’s Tanjung
Priok Port to Tanjung Perak Port in Surabaya, East Java Province.

The road was scheduled to open early this year, but unqualified
concessionaires approved to build sections of the road have
since had to abandon their bids or seek government help.

Jasa Marga said it would buy 39 percent of MKC, now 60 percent
held by CMS Works International. State-owned construction firm
PT Wijaya Karya Tbk, or Wika, holds an 8 percent stake. MKC has
a 35-year concession for 15.2 km, with construction scheduled to
start in 2010 to 2011 for Rp 2.8 trillion ($243.6 million).

Jasa Marga said it would raise its stake in MTN to 60 percent
for Rp 406 billion. MTN has a contract to build parts of the
Kunciran-Parigi and Parigi-Serpong roads.

Jasa Marga said it signed a deal with MNA shareholders to
increase its stake to 55 percent for Rp 330 billion, in addition
to Rp 527 billion it plans to inject into the company.


Berlian Laju 2008 Net Profit IDR1.56 Tln Vs IDR758.98 Bln

JAKARTA, March 22 (Dow Jones)--Shipper PT Berlian Laju Tanker
(BLTA.JK) said Monday its 2008 net profit doubled due mostly to
an increase in operating revenue.

Net profit for 2008 rose to IDR1.56 trillion from IDR758.98
billion the previous year.

Operating revenue at the nation's largest shipper by assets rose
to IDR7.00 trillion from IDR3.64 trillion.

Assets as of Dec. 31 were IDR24.98 trillion, compared with
IDR20.67 trillion a year earlier.


Malaysia's Pantai Holdings Plans Indonesian Expansion -Report

KUALA LUMPUR, March 22 (Dow Jones)--Pantai Holdings Bhd. is in
talks with the Indonesian government to further expand its waste
disposal business to cover the whole of Java, the New Straits
Times reported, quoting an executive.

The daily said that medical group Pantai, 60%-owned by Khazanah
Nasional Bhd. and 40% by Singapore's Parkway Holdings Ltd.
(P27.SG), was confident of securing the concession as it is
already the concessionaire for the treatment of medical waste in
West Java.

"We are already there in Java, so it will be easier. If
possible, we want to cater for the whole of Java island. We are
looking at Jakarta as well as East and central Java," said
Managing Director Faisal Ismail.

The daily also quoted Faisal as saying that the group is looking
to add another hospital to its existing network of nine
hospitals in Malaysia.

"We are looking at both greenfield projects as well as merger
and acquisition opportunities," Faisal said.


The Jakarta Globe
Monday, March 23, 2009

Catur Posts Net Profit Rise of 67%

Yohanes Obor

The publicly listed owner of the Mitra10 hardware store chain,
PT Catur Sentosa Adiprana Tbk, said its net profit rose 67
percent last year, boosted by a 27 percent rise in sales.

It booked a net profit of Rp 56.2 billion ($4.77 million) in
2008, compared with Rp 33.5 billion a year earlier, while sales
were Rp 2.7 trillion compared with Rp 2.1 trillion in 2007.

“In 2008, the retail unit of the Mitra10 hardware store chain
contributed earnings of Rp 495.6 billion,” Catur’s director,
Idrus Widjajakusuma, said.

He said retail sales grew 38 percent, contributing a total
increase in earnings of 18.3 percent, compared with 16.8 percent
in 2007.

Idrus said the construction materials distribution unit posted
sales of Rp 2.1 trillion, a 25 percent rise compared with Rp 1.6
trillion the previous year, while the chemical substance
distribution unit recorded sales of Rp 156 billion compared with
Rp 132 billion a year earlier.

Idrus said construction materials distribution contributed 75.9
percent to total earnings, while chemical distribution
contributed 5.8 percent.

Idrus said the company expected its retail unit to grow by 20
percent to 30 percent this year, along with the expansion in
some local areas.


Nike Won't Relocate Its Investment In Indonesia: Minister

JAKARTA, March 23 Asia Pulse - Nike said it would not relocate
move its investment from Indonesia but continue to develop its
business in the country, Industry Minister Fahmi Idris said.

"Nike said it is going to shut down four of its factories but
none of them are located in Indonesia," the minister said here
on Friday.

Minister Fahmi Idris said he had received a message from Nike
representative in Indonesia John Ricard who said Nike would not
shut down its factories in Indonesia.

The Nike representative said Nike would reduce the volumes of
its production in Indonesia in the next six to 12 months.

"The United States, where Nike is based, still sees Indonesia as
a place which is still safe for investment and its business
climate is still conducive," Fahmi Idris said.

He said that Nike was also planning to stop orders in four of
its factories in a number of countries. "They consider that our
business climate is the most conducive one if compared with
those of other countries," the minister added.

So, the stoppage by Nike of its orders would not have a negative
impact on Indonesia. On the other hand, it could even create
additional orders in Indonesia, the minister said.

Nike is planning to stop orders in four of its factories because
of the 20 per cent fall in demand for shoes on the world market.

Nike so far has shoe factories in a number of countries such as
Vietnam, China, Thailand and Indonesia.

Indonesia's national shoe production reaches 1.2 billion pairs,
of which 800 million were sport shoes. Of the sport shoes, 60
per cent are supplied by Nike.

Records show that Indonesia's shoe consumption reached 235
million pairs, of which 40 per cent or 94 million pairs are
domestically produced and 60 per cent or 141 million are
imported shoes.


Indonesian Govt Has Not Decided On Holding Co For State Firms

JAKARTA, March 23 Asia Pulse - The Indonesian government has yet
to decide on a holding company for state-owned firms engaged in
investment, banking, financing services and insurance, Minister
of State Enterprises Sofyan Djalil said.

"No decision has been made with regard to the holding company
for state firms. But PT Danareksa is one of the many options so
far," the minister said here on Friday.

He said that the ministry of state enterprises was still in the
stage of making formulations. It would be decided later which of
the state firms would be appointed to serve as a holding company.

"The possibility of Danareksa to be appointed as a lead holding
is only one of the many options that the ministry would
consider," he said.

Sofyan Djalil said that his ministry would consider the pros and
cons of the options.

"We will use the best, easiest and most flexible way for
achieving the target of setting up the holding company," he

He said that the establishment of a holding firm for investment
and financial service companies was part of the obligation and
implementation of the single presence policy required by Bank
Indonesia (BI), the central bank.

The establishment of the holding company is also an effort of
the ministry of enterprises to make state companies financially


Manulife Indonesia Posts 34% Increase In New Premium Income

JAKARTA, March 23 Asia Pulse - PT Asuransi Jiwa Manulife
Indonesia reported a 34 per cent increase in new premium income
to Rp1.06 trillion (US$88.3 million) last year from Rp787.26
billion in the previous year.

The Chief Agency Officer of the life insurance company Nelly
Husnayati attributed the increase to good performance of sales
agents and cooperation with banks under bancassurance .

Sales agents account for 75 per cent of the company's premium
income encouraging it to recruit more agents, Husnayati said.

She said the number of sales agents will be increased from 4,500
at present to 5,800 by the end of this year.

The company posted an increase of 7 per cent to Rp1.8 trillion
in premium income from old policy holders bringing its total
premium income to Rp2.86 trillion , up from Rp2.46 trillion in
the previous year.

This year the company plans to open business in sharia
insurance, the newspaper Investor Daily said.


Indonesia's Artha Graha Posts 3.7% Increase In Net Profit

JAKARTA, March 23 Asia Pulse - PT Bank Artha Graha Internsional
(JSX:INPC) reported a 3.7 per cent increase in net profit last
year from the previous year.

Data from Bank Indonesia showed that the publicly listed bank
recorded a 12.8 per cent increase in net interest income to
Rp429.45 billion (US$35.8 million) last year.

The improved financial performance of the bank was attributable
to credit expansion with outstanding credits rising to Rp9.85
trillion from Rp7.6 trillion, the data show.

The amount of third party funds held by the banks also rose to
Rp10.05 trillion from Rp9.15 trillion , the newspaper Bisnis
Indonesia said .

The assets of the bank, which offers credits mainly to small
businesses, grew to Rp12.86 trillion by the end of last year
from Rp11.9 trillion a year earlier.


Indonesia's Perhutani Seeking Permission To Export Teak

JAKARTA, March 23 Asia pulse - Indonesia's state-owned forestry
company Perhutani has called on the government to allow it to
export teak logs in order to contribute Rp750 billion (US$64.5
million) to the state, its acting president director, Upik
Rosalina Wasrin, said.

The Perhutani acting president director said here on Friday that
her company wanted to export teak logs of the 'fancy' type in
order to contribute Rp750 billion to the state but the
government still banned the export of teak logs.

She said that the export of certain type of teak logs would
increase the income of Perhutani by up to Rp3 trillion.

Upik said that it was reasonable to open export for teak logs of
the fancy specification because the price of this type in the
world market was high.

She said that fancy teak logs were sold at Rp20 million per cu.m
overseas which were much higher than the local price at Rp9-10
million per cu.m.

Upik said that Perhutani's teak wood production reached 250,000
cubic meters per annum. Of the production, about 35,000 cubic
meters were of the fancy quality.

"Last year, there were about 5,000 cubic meters which were not
absorbed by the domestic market because the price of this type
was expensive," she said.


Indonesia To Replace Chemical Fertilizers With Organic Ones

JAKARTA, March 23 Asia Pulse - The Indonesian government will
soon replace 50 per cent of chemical fertilizers with organic
fertilizers for food crops, Agriculture Minister Anton
Apriyantono said.

The farmlands have been less fertile as a result of long use of
chemical fertilizers, Anton told farmers in Bone, South Sulawesi.

Every year larger supply of fertilizers are needed to make up
for the loss in fertility caused by chemical fertilizers, he
said without giving more details about the plan.

He said the plan will also open more jobs in rural areas as
production of organic fertilizers will be produced by the
farmers themselves.

Indonesia still is dependent on imports for most of its chemical
fertilizer requirement like KCl, ZA, he was quoted as saying by
the newspaper Bisnis Indonesia.


Indonesian Govt Optimistic To Achieve Rice Production Target

JAKARTA, March 23 Asia Pulse - The Indonesian government said it
is optimistic the country will achieve rice production target of
63.5 million in dry unhulled rice this year.

Agriculture Minister Anton Apriyantono said the climate in
favorable in the Oct.. 2008-March, 2009 season and the harvest
area is larger.

Earlier the Central Bureau of Statistics predicted the
production will reach only 60 million tons.

Anton said the agency predicted not on the reality in the fields
, but more on the trend of annual production in the last 20

Data at the food crop directorate general show harvest areas
this year totaled 12.42 million hectares, up 1.22 per cent from
last year, the newspaper Bisnis Indonesia said.

The country regained self sufficiency in rice supply last year
and plans to export 100,000 tons of its surplus of hulled rice
this year.


Construction Of Indonesian DDT Project To Start This Year

JAKARTA, March 23 Asia Pulse - The Indonesian government hopes
to finish in June the process of clearing lands for
double-double track (DDT)

between Jakarta's Manggarai railway station and Cikarang in West

Head of the working unit of the DTT project Widodo said the
lands to be cleared total 1.7 hectares all in Jakarta .

There are a number of factors hampering the process of land
clearing including incomplete land certificate and compensation
to be paid for lands belonging to the Jakarta city

The transport ministry has set aside Rp30 billion (US$2550) to
finance the land clearing, Widodo was quoted as saying by the
newspaper Bisnis Indonesia.

The project to cost around 58.6 billion yens will be financed by
Japan International Cooperation Agency .

The transport ministry said construction of the project will
start this year after being delayed for six years.