Sunday, May 31, 2009

Indonesian and Malaysia row over Ambalat wealth

Ambalat Waters Row Must Be Resolved
Indonesia and Malaysia teetered on the edge of violence last
week when an Indonesian Navy vessel was moments away from firing
on a Malaysian warship that had encroached deep into Indonesian
territorial waters.

This intrusion was, however, just the latest since the beginning
of the year and highlights the growing tension between the two
Asean neighbors in the disputed oil-rich waters of Ambalat in
the Sulawesi Sea. The Indonesian Navy has stated that the
Malaysian Navy and Marine Police had intruded into Indonesian
waters at least 10 times since January.
Indonesia and Malaysia have in the past quarreled over disputed
territory, with Indonesia losing control over Sipadan and
Ligitan islands. That dispute dated back to 1982 and was settled
by the International Court of Justice in The Hague in 2002 in
Malaysia’s favor on the basis of effective occupation.
The court, however, did not decide on the question of
territorial waters and maritime borders, which means that the
dispute between the two countries over territorial waters and
the continental shelf remains unresolved. The recent incidents
in Ambalat are thus a continuation of this ongoing dispute.
The dispute over Ambalat emerged after the Malaysian government
awarded a contract to Royal Dutch Shell in February 2005 to
explore and develop the Ambalat deepwater oil block in the
Sulawesi Sea, near Malaysia’s Sabah state and Indonesia’s East
Kalimantan province. Indonesia had awarded Unocal a contract for
the same block three months earlier, in November 2004.
It’s no surprise that the two countries would lay claim to the
territory given the rich oil reserves locked in the seabed.
Indonesia is the largest oil-producing country in Southeast
Asia, with Malaysia in second place. Both sides, therefore, have
enormous reasons to lay claim to the area.
Such disputes are never easy to resolve as neither side will be
willing to concede territory. In matters of national
sovereignty, passions can run high and politicians invariably
use such opportunities to trumpet their nationalist credentials.
It’s thus reassuring to hear Ministry of Foreign Affairs
spokesman Teuku Faizasyah say that such incidents are in fact
common as the dispute has yet to be resolved. Having said that,
the foreign ministry and the government must move quickly to
resolve the dispute and present its case as forcibly as possible.
In the Ambalat case, Malaysia seems to be dragging its heels as
it put bilateral talks on hold in April 2008. The ball is
therefore in Malaysia’s court and it must renew diplomacy as
soon as possible rather than adding fuel to the fire by
intruding into Indonesian waters.
Indonesia has every right to protect its national waters and
defend its sovereignty. It’s been nearly 50 years since the two
neighbors faced off militarily. It would be tragic if the
current dispute over Ambalat leads to another military standoff.
The Jakarta Globe
June 1, 2009

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Australian Government Travel Warnings for Myanmar (Burma)

Australian Government Travel Warnings for Myanmar (Burma)
Burma overall This Advice is current for Sunday, 31 May 2009.

Areas bordering Thailand

This advice has been reviewed and reissued. It contains new information in the Summary and under Health Issues (new quarantine measures for passengers who have visited countries with confirmed cases of H1N1 Influenza 09 (Human Swine Influenza)). The overall level of the advice has not changed.

• The Burmese Government has advised that it has implemented new quarantine restrictions. All persons exhibiting flu-like symptoms who have visited a country with confirmed cases of H1N1 Influenza 09 (Human Swine Influenza) during the previous ten days will be quarantined for ten days in a designated hospital. For a full list of countries with confirmed cases of H1N1 Influenza 09, see our travel bulletin on H1N1 Influenza 09.
• We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Burma because of the uncertain security situation and possibility of civil unrest.
• Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.
• Be aware that protests and organising assemblies of people are illegal in Burma. You should avoid all demonstrations and street rallies as they may turn violent. You should avoid taking photographs of demonstrations, the military or police as this may not be tolerated by the Burmese authorities.
• We strongly advise you not to travel to the areas near the border with Thailand because of the risk of ethnic conflict, banditry and unmarked landmines.
• Damage caused by Tropical Cyclone Nargis in May 2008 still affects movement in the Ayeyarwady (Irrawady) Delta. Australians are encouraged to avoid unnecessary local travel in this region.
• The World Health Organization has confirmed a human case of avian influenza in Burma. See the Health Issues section below for advice to Australians travelling to or resident in Burma.

Australian Government Travel Warnings for Cambodia

Australian Government Travel Warnings for Cambodia
Cambodia overall This Advice is current for Sunday, 31 May 2009.

This advice has been reviewed and reissued. It contains new information under Local Laws (new procedures to legalise marriages between Cambodians and foreigners). The overall level of the advice has not changed.

• We advise you to exercise caution and monitor developments that might affect your safety in Cambodia because of the risk of civil unrest, violent criminal activity and terrorism.
• Pay close attention to your personal security and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.
• In recent years, Cambodian authorities have disrupted a number of bomb plots, most recently on 3 January 2009, when three improvised explosive devices were discovered in Phnom Penh.
• There is an ongoing border dispute between Cambodia and Thailand relating to land adjacent to the Preah Vihear Temple (Khao Pra Viharn in Thai). There were instances of fighting between Cambodian and Thai military troops in October 2008 resulting in some injuries and fatalities. The temple is currently closed to tourists. Australians are urged to avoid travel to this area and to monitor the local media.
• You should avoid protests, demonstrations and political gatherings as they may turn violent.
• There have been recent reports of an increase in assaults and armed robberies occurring at the Riverfront area in Phnom Penh and in Sihanoukville, particularly at isolated beaches. You should exercise vigilance when travelling through this area at all times but especially after dark.
• The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed human cases of avian influenza in Cambodia. See the Health Issues section below for advice to Australians travelling to or resident in Cambodia.

Australian Government Travel Warning for VIETNAM

Australian Government Travel Warning for VIETNAM

Vietnam overall This Advice is current for Sunday, 31 May 2009.
This advice has been reviewed and reissued. It contains new information under Local Laws (marriage). The overall level of the advice has not changed.

• We advise you to exercise caution and monitor developments that might affect your safety in Vietnam because of the risk of criminal activity.
• Pay close attention to your personal security and monitor the media for information about possible new safety and security risks.
• Penalties for drug offences are severe and include the death sentence. Vietnamese authorities have announced increased security measures to combat drug trafficking. Over 20 Australians are currently serving long sentences or facing the death penalty for drug trafficking in Vietnam.
• The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed human deaths from avian influenza in Vietnam. See the Health Issues section below for advice to Australians travelling to or resident in Vietnam.

Australian Government Travel Warnings for Malaysia

Malaysia overall This Advice is current for Sunday, 31 May 2009.

Islands, dive sites and coastal areas of Eastern Sabah
This advice has been reviewed and reissued. It contains new information in the Summary and under Health Issues (H1N1 Influenza 09 (Human Swine Influenza)). The overall level of the advice has not changed.

• A small number of confirmed cases of H1N1 Influenza 09 (Human Swine Influenza) have been reported in Malaysia. For further information see our travel bulletin on H1N1 Influenza 09.
• We advise you to exercise caution and monitor developments that might affect your safety in Malaysia because of the risk of terrorist attack.
• Pay close attention to your personal security and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.
• We strongly advise you to reconsider your need to travel to the islands, dive sites and coastal areas of Eastern Sabah because of the high threat of kidnapping by terrorists and criminals. In the past, terrorists have kidnapped foreigners from coastal areas of Eastern Sabah, the islands and surrounding waters. If you do decide to travel to this region, you should exercise extreme caution.
• If you are intending to travel overland from Malaysia to Thailand, you should also read the travel advice for Thailand which recommends that Australians do not travel to the far southern Thai provinces of Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat and Songkhla, including overland travel from and to the Malaysian border through these provinces.

Australian Government Travel Warnings for the Philippines

Philippines overall This Advice is current for Sunday, 31 May 2009.

Mindanao, including the Zamboanga Peninsula and the Sulu Archipelago
This advice has been reviewed and reissued. It contains new information in the Summary and under Health Issues (H1N1 Influenza 09 (Human Swine Influenza)). The overall level of the advice has not changed.

• A small number of confirmed cases of H1N1 Influenza 09 (Human Swine Influenza) have been reported in the Philippines. For further information see our travel bulletin on H1N1 Influenza 09.
• We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in the Philippines because of the high threat of terrorist attack and the high level of serious crime.
• Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.
• Terrorist attacks could occur at any time, anywhere in the Philippines, including in Manila. We continue to receive credible reports indicating terrorists are planning attacks against a range of targets in a variety of locations, including places frequented by foreigners. You should avoid places known to be terrorist targets (see the Terrorism section below).
• Violent crime is a significant problem in the Philippines (see the Crime Section below).
• We strongly advise you not to travel to Mindanao, including mainland Mindanao, the Zamboanga Peninsula and the Sulu Archipelago, due to the very high threat of terrorist attack, including kidnapping, and related counter-terrorism operations. Armed clashes between the Philippines Armed Forces and Moro Islamic Liberation Front are continuing in central Mindanao. Attacks occurred in late 2008 against military and civilian targets. Further attacks cannot be ruled out.
• There is a danger of kidnapping throughout the Philippines, particularly in the southern Philippines including coastal and island tourist resorts and dive sites. Terrorists have kidnapped foreigners from these areas in the past.
• The typhoon season normally runs from late May to early December. This is also the rainy season when tropical storms, flooding and landslides may occur.

Thailand Travel Warning Updates

Australian Government Travel Warnings

Thailand overall This Advice is current for Sunday, 31 May 2009.

This advice has been reviewed and reissued. It contains new information in the Summary and under Health Issues (H1N1 Influenza 09 (Human Swine Influenza)). The overall level of the advice has not changed.

• A small number of confirmed cases of H1N1 Influenza 09 (Human Swine Influenza) have been reported in Thailand. For further information see our travel bulletin on H1N1 Influenza 09.
• We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution because of the high threat of terrorist attack and because of political instability in Thailand.
• Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.
• We continue to receive reports that terrorists may be planning attacks against a range of targets, including tourist areas and other places frequented by foreigners.
• On 12 April 2009, a State of Emergency was declared in Bangkok and surrounding provinces following violent clashes between security authorities and protesters. The State of Emergency was lifted on 24 April 2009. Although major protest action has ceased, the situation remains unpredictable.
• Demonstrations can develop quickly and with little warning. Disruption in the city and other parts of Thailand, including to transport and other infrastructure, could occur. You should avoid demonstration sites, political rallies, military deployments and concentrations of security personnel. You should also closely monitor developments and follow any instructions issued by local authorities. If you are in an area where demonstrators are gathering, you should leave the area immediately.
• There is an ongoing border dispute between Thailand and Cambodia relating to land adjacent to the Khao Pra Viharn temple (Preah Vihear in Khmer). There were instances of fighting between Thai and Cambodian military troops in October 2008 resulting in some injuries and fatalities. Australians are urged to be particularly vigilant if travelling to these areas and to monitor local media.
• We strongly advise you not to travel at this time to the southern provinces of Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat and Songkhla or overland to and from the Malaysian border through these provinces due to high levels of ongoing violence in these regions, including terrorist attacks and bombings resulting in deaths and injuries on an almost daily basis. Since January 2004, more than 3300 people have reportedly been killed and many more injured, including a number of foreigners. If you are in these provinces, you should consider leaving.
• The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed human deaths from avian influenza in Thailand. See the Health Issues section below for advice to Australians travelling to or resident in Thailand.

Indonesian Military buildup

Indonesia to Buy Military Aircraft and Submarines
Indonesia is in talks with the United States to buy Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules transport planes and might be in a position to buy fighter jets and submarines in 2-3 years.
The country aims to raise its defence spending to 1.2 percent of
gross domestic product within five years, from 0.68 percent or
33.6 trillion rupiah ($3.3 billion) now.
Defence spending of the world's fourth-most populous nation, was far below neighbouring countries such as Singapore, Australia and Malaysia.
China is building up its military and Australia said this month
it plans a $72 billion defense upgrade over the next 20 years,
including new submarines, leading to fears among some experts of
an arms race in Asia as countries look to maintain control over
trade routes and borders.
Since Singapore is buying F-15 fighter jets, Indonesia was
matching that move by buying Russian Sukhoi fighters.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Malaysia Leadership challanges

Mahathir and Najib in Divorce Court
The former PM appears about ready to have a go at yet another successor
The honeymoon between Malaysia's new prime minister, Najib Tun Razak, and the irascible 84-year-old Mahathir Mohamad, who played a major role in driving Najib's predecessor from office, is over almost before it began.
Najib, gambling that the former premier's influence is waning within the ranks of the United Malays National Organisation, has broken decisively over a number of hot-button issues with Mahathir, who held office for 22 years before stepping down in 2003 in favor of Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. Many of them involve a cozier relationship with the Singapore government, with which Mahathir carried on a rocky relationship.

Earning Mahathir's enmity could be dangerous. Badawi, who came into office as a reformer but stumbled, was attacked by Mahathir almost from the time he became prime minister, especially after cancelling a series of Mahathir's favorite projects. He was
beset by a series of other problems, including a fading economy, perceptions of rising crime and a passive personality. He led his party to disastrous elections in 2008 in which the Barisan Nasional, or national ruling coalition, lost its two-thirds hold on the national parliament for the first time since independence.
Najib faces serious challenges. In addition to the widespread perception of his own corruption in connection with billions of dollars in contracts let to UMNO cronies when he was defense minister, he has the continuing millstone of the economy around his neck. As late as two weeks ago, the stimulus package he put into place was expected to result in gross domestic product growth of plus or minus 1 percent. However, the economy slipped
disastrously, by 6.2 percent year-on-year in the first quarter and Najib said Thursday that it could contract by as much as 4 to 5 percent for the full year.
And, as Mahathir has pointed out, despite his promises to rid the party of the old-guard rent-seekers that got UMNO in trouble with the wider public prior to the 2008 election, he has brought them back in growing numbers.
Asia Sentinel
Friday, 29 May 2009

Arafura Anxieties Get Tangled in One Net

Arafura Anxieties Get Tangled in One Net
THE case of the Merauke Five - five Australians who have been
detained in Indonesian Papua after landing their light plane
there without visas or a registered flight plan - raises a
number of sensitive issues, and shows how easily the
relationship with our northern neighbour can be upset by border
policies which Australians - if indeed they are aware of them -
would see as perfectly normal and justifiable.
The five seem stuck in a repetitive, Kafkaesque nightmare
because of their careless but relatively harmless misdemeanour.
On a joy flight from Horn Island in the Torres Strait, they
approached Merauke in a light plane one Friday last September,
and negotiated with the control tower permission to land and
stay in the town until the following Monday. They were advised
that they would have to pay extra taxes and a fine.
Once on the ground, though, things became more difficult. The
group has been arrested, tried and found guilty, sentenced to
prison, then exonerated on appeal and released, only to be
rearrested and returned to jail.

They are being punished, it appears, at the behest of local
officials who resent the way Australia treats Papuan fishermen
who stray into its waters. None of the Merauke Five, it hardly
needs saying, has had anything to do with Papuan fishermen, or
the way Australia treats them. None has had a hand in either
making the policy or enforcing it. One of the greater ironies of
this story is that the pilot, William Scott-Bloxam, was
intending to scout for possible tourist opportunities in the
Merauke region during his visit - opportunities which, if
developed, might well benefit local residents. Their
transgression of Indonesia's flight and visa rules cannot, of
course, be condoned and should certainly not go unpunished, but
they must surely by now, in eight months of jail and other
detention, have paid for any crimes they may have committed.
They should be released and allowed to return home immediately.
The underlying resentment which their plight reveals, however,
gives the case wider implications. The Herald's Jakarta
correspondent, Tom Allard, has reported that prosecutors have
justified the jailing of the Merauke Five as "in accordance to
the law … unlike our neighbouring country who, without legal
process, burn and sink Indonesian fishing boats that enter their
territorial borders". The argument is a ridiculous red herring,
but it illustrates the anger which Australian fisheries policies
appear now to arouse in our closest neighbour. That resentment
should now assume a higher priority in Australian diplomacy with
The claim that Indonesian fishermen are only doing what they
have done for centuries is not quite true. Certainly traditional
fishing patterns in the Torres Strait and the Arafura Sea bear
little relation to the seabed boundaries between Australia,
Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, which are now regulated and
policed by the laws of each country. Local indigenous fishermen
on all sides will defy the rules and cross boundaries in pursuit
of a better catch. But Indonesian fishing stocks have been
devastated by overfishing, driving sailors to seek a catch
further south, where Australia is trying to manage its fishery
sustainably. Technology far beyond what might be described as
traditional - powered fishing boats, winches, larger nets, even
gelignite for blasting reefs - allows them to land far bigger
hauls than could be pulled by hand onto praus and dinghies.
Australia's actions in confiscating catches and burning boats
are tough, certainly, but experience has shown them to be the
only effective deterrent. They are combined with action to help
Indonesian fishermen to know the rules and adapt to them. More
aid may well be needed, and the policy may need to be adjusted
to soften its harsher effects, but it is not wrong to defend
this country's waters against overfishing.
In the meantime, Australia should be concerned that neither its
representations from the Foreign Minister, Stephen Smith, nor
the ambassador to Jakarta have had any effect in this case. That
suggests the actions of local officials are not without backing
higher in the Indonesian Government. Yet Canberra's
softly-softly approach is probably the right one. Indonesia's
politicians are in election mode, and Australia is an easy
target for any ambitious local politician wanting to raise their
profile by kicking the smug neighbours. The miserable fate of
the Merauke Five, though, says little for the two countries'
much-vaunted special relationship.
The Sydney Morning Herald
Saturday, May 30, 2009

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Philippines Military colluding with domestic Terror group

Abu Sayyaf and Philippines military ‘colluding’

It is puzzling why the Abu Sayyaf is getting away with its violent acts despite the authorities’ claim that it was close to wiping out the group.
The Abu Sayyaf kidnaps with impunity in Mindanao. The government should look into the obvious conspiracy between the Armed Forces and the Abu Sayyaf.
Mindanao in southern Philippines, reeling from nearly four decades of communist and separatist insurgencies, is the base of operations of the Abu Sayyaf. The group has been linked to al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiah, another terrorist group commanding operations from its Southeast Asia base.
Conspiracy between the military and the Abu Sayyaf could be confirmed by the kidnappings of members of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), teachers and farmers, besides the beheading of hostages held by the terrorist group.
There is an impending human-rights crisis in Mindanao because of sporadic clashes between the military and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) since August over the aborted signing of an agreement on ancestral domain. The MILF has been fighting for an independent Islamic state in Mindanao since the 1970s. So had the Abu Sayyaf in the 1990s until it turned into kidnapping and banditry.
More than 610,000 people were displaced and over 100 unarmed civilians killed during clashes between soldiers and rebels in Mindanao last year.

ASEAN on Trial Again

WHILE Aung San Suu Kyi's lawyer does not know whether to be "happy or sad", since she is still in prison and on trial though no longer under house arrest, the delicacy of her health and the frailty of her political condition leave no room for ambivalence and prevarication. Of course, the tin soldiers in charge, who have put the opposition in chains and silenced domestic dissent, want the rest of the world to shut up, too, and stay out of their domestic dealings. And so does Asean, in keeping with its sacrosanct principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of one another. Even when it was not possible to remain blind, dumb and deaf when the internal turned into the infernal in Myanmar, the regional grouping has chosen to speak softly rather than strongly, as reflected in the most recent expression of "grave concern" over Suu Kyi's trial and the commitment to constructive engagement by the Asean chair.
Certainly, the tougher words which have emanated from other quarters have had no more effect on the stiff-necked generals than the muted response from Asean, and neither have their sanctions. No doubt, in an organisation which renounces the use of force, believes in the peaceful resolution of conflicts and eschews mechanisms to penalise unyielding members, the only recourse is to dialogue and diplomacy. But the military junta in Myanmar has been a festering regional sore for far too long to warrant diplomatic niceties and kid-glove treatment. Suu Kyi may be in the dock on account of the unwelcome visit of an eccentric American, but Asean has been on trial for many years now because of its failure to rein in the maverick in its midst. It may only be words, but since words are all it seems to have, the least that its members should do is to send an unequivocal message to the prickly generals by speaking -- openly, loudly and clearly, collectively or individually -- or forever hold its tongue.

It would seem that China and India prefer to say little and do not want to use strong words. Neither do they have to. They should be able to speak softly and privately to the generals and still be heard. As Myanmar's largest investment and trading partners, the two Asian giants have the leverage that Asean does not have. But so far they have shown little inclination to use their considerable behind-the-scenes influence. It is time Asean prods its two Asian partners to do more to help in its trials and tribulations over Myanmar.
Editorial, New Straits Times

Amnesty International Report 2009: Indonesia

Amnesty International Report 2009: Indonesia
Head of state and government: Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
Death penalty: retentionist
Population: 234.3 million
Life expectancy: 69.7 years
Under-5 mortality: (m/f) 36/26 per 1,000
Adult literacy: 90.4 per cent
The situations in Papua and Maluku continued to deteriorate,
including continued attacks on freedom of expression. The number
of prisoners of conscience rose sharply to 117. Attacks against
minority religious groups and their leaders increased across the
archipelago. Torture, excessive use of force and unlawful
killings by police and security forces continued. No progress
was made in bringing the perpetrators of past gross human rights
violations in Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam (NAD), Papua and
Timor-Leste to justice. Indonesia resumed executions in June,
executing 10 people in total. Maternal deaths remained the
highest recorded in South East Asia. Freedom of expression
The government continued to severely restrict freedom of
expression. The number of people arrested and detained for
peacefully expressing their views rose to at least 32. An
additional 85 people imprisoned in previous years remained in
It remained a criminal offence to raise the “Morning Star” flag
in Papua, the “Benang Raja” flag in Maluku, and the “Crescent
Moon” flag in NAD.
Low-level conflict between the security forces and
pro-independence insurgents in Papua continued. Local community
leaders were intimidated and threatened by the military and
police. There were reports of torture and other ill-treatment,
excessive use of force and extrajudicial executions by security
* In August, at a rally celebrating World Indigenous Day,
police opened fire into a crowd of people after some of them had
raised the banned “Morning Star” flag. One peaceful
demonstrator, Opinus Tabuni, was found dead following the event.
* Filep Karma, sentenced to 15 years, and Yusak Pakage,
sentenced to ten years, remained in jail. The two men were
convicted in 2005 for raising the “Morning Star” flag.
Twenty-one men who performed a traditional war dance in front of
the President culminating in the unfurling of the banned “Benang
Raja” flag were sentenced to between seven and 20 years’
imprisonment for “rebellion” in trials throughout 2008. Freedom
of religion
The Ahmadiyya religious minority continued to face
discrimination, intimidation and violence. At an interfaith
rally in June, Ahmadiyya demonstrators were attacked by sections
of the Front Pembela Islam (FPI). Police who were monitoring the
rally did not intervene. In response, the Indonesian government
announced a joint ministerial decree “freezing” the activities
of Ahmadiyya, effectively outlawing its followers. In October,
Munarman, a commander of the Islamic Defender Squad, and Rizieq
Shihab, leader of the Islamic Defenders’ Front, were jailed for
18 months for inciting violence at the rally.
Attacks on Christian leaders and the closure of church buildings
in Papua continued.
* In August, three unknown assailants beat unconscious Catholic
priest and human rights defender Father Benny Susetyo in South
Police and security forces
Human rights violations by police and military personnel
included excessive use of force during arrest sometimes
resulting in death, torture and other ill-treatment of
detainees, failure to protect demonstrators during peaceful
demonstrations and endemic corruption.
In April, the UN Committee against Torture examined Indonesia’s
second periodic report. While commending certain legislative
developments, the Committee expressed deep concern about the
numerous, reliable reports of “routine and widespread use of
torture and ill-treatment of suspects in police custody”, as
well as torture during military operations. Impunity
In January, the Supreme Court sentenced Pollycarpus Priyanto, a
former pilot, to 20 years in prison for poisoning human rights
activist Munir Said Thalib on a Garuda airlines flight from
Indonesia to the Netherlands in 2004. In February, Indra
Setiawan, a former boss of Garuda, was sentenced to one year’s
imprisonment for falsifying documents that allowed Pollycarpus
Priyanto to travel on Munir Said Thalib’s flight. In December,
Muchdi Purwoprandjono, a former deputy chief of Indonesia’s
Intelligence Agency (BIN), was acquitted of masterminding Munir
Said Thalib’s murder due to lack of evidence. There were fears
that the trial was obstructed after three prosecution witnesses,
all former BIN members, retracted their testimony in September.
In July, the Commission of Truth and Friendship (CTF),
established to document crimes committed in Timor-Leste in 1999
and promote reconciliation, submitted its findings to the
Timor-Leste government and the Indonesian government. It
allocated institutional responsibility for gross human rights
violations to pro-autonomy militia groups, Indonesia’s military,
civilian government and police. The Indonesian government
welcomed the report and expressed its regret over the events of
1999, but stopped short of offering an apology.
The CTF’s mandate prevented it from pursuing its own
prosecutions, and it did not name violators. Concerns about
impunity led the UN to boycott the CTF’s investigations and
instead resume prosecutions through the Serious Crime Unit and
Timor-Leste prosecutors, specifically to probe the 1999 violence.
* In April, Indonesia’s Supreme Court overturned on appeal the
conviction and 10-year sentence of former militia leader Eurico
Guterres for crimes against humanity in Timor-Leste. He was the
only defendant out of the six originally found guilty, whose
conviction had been upheld and who was serving a prison sentence.
Death penalty
Executions resumed in June, ending a 14-month hiatus. Ten people
were executed in 2008, compared to 11 recorded in the entire
preceding decade. At least 10 people were sentenced to death,
and at least 116 people remained on death row.
* On 8 November, Amrozi bin H. Nurhasyim, his brother Ali
Ghufron and Imam Samudera were executed. The three men had been
convicted of involvement in the Bali bombings on 12 October
2002, in which 202 people died.
In December, Indonesia voted against a UN General Assembly
resolution calling for a worldwide moratorium on executions.
Right to health
Indonesia had the highest recorded maternal deaths in South East
Asia, with an estimated 19,000 deaths every year. Rates of
maternal mortality in remote areas and among Indigenous Peoples
far exceeded those within more central and developed areas.

Indonesian and Malaysian Navies clash

Indonesian Navy Was Set To Fire on Malaysian Warship
The Indonesian Navy was moments away from firing on a Malaysian warship that encroached deep into Indonesian territorial waters earlier this week, but called off the attack when the intruder retreated.
The latest incident highlights growing tensions in the disputed
oil-rich waters of Ambalat in the border region between Malaysia
and Indonesia in the Sulawesi Sea, with the Navy stating on
Thursday that the Malaysian Navy and Marine Police had intruded
into Indonesian waters at least nine times since the beginning
of the year.
The Malaysian Fast Attack Craft Gun KD Yu-3508 vessel penetrated 12 nautical miles into Indonesian maritime territory where it ignored demands from the captain of the Indonesian KRI Untung Suropati-872 Parchim-class corvette to retreat.
The Indonesian Navy has now positioned seven battleships in the area as preemptive measures to secure the Ambalat territory.
The Malaysian Navy has as many as four warships in the area.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Sino-Indonesian Relations hit new Highs

Less than 20 years ago, they were still enemies. Today, China has become one of Indonesia's largest economic partners.
Since both nations resumed diplomatic relations in July 1990 - 23 years after Indonesia cut ties with the world's most populous nation following the failed communist coup attempt which the Chinese government was accused of being involved in - the economic relations between the two has continued to thrive.
And economic relations (borrowing a phrase from the stock market) are hitting new highs during the economic crisis, at a time when China seems to be the only one capable of helping many countries cope with the crisis given its huge foreign exchange reserves. Indications of warmer relations are indeed plentiful.

Three weeks ago, public utility PT Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN) signed two loan agreements worth US$1.061 billion with Bank of China and China Export Import Bank, to finance its 10,000 MW coal fired power plant projects. This happened at a time when all banks in developed countries refused to lend.
The loans will enable PLN to continue its 10,000 MW power projects despite the crisis - which is good for Indonesia as well as for Chinese companies that got most of the contracts to build the plants.
Two months ago, both countries' central banks signed a multi-billion dollar currency swap agreement under which Indonesian firms can buy Chinese products worth up to $15 billion using the yuan, while Chinese firms can buy Indonesian products of the same value using the rupiah. As far as Indonesia is concerned, the deal helps ease pressure on the rupiah, while China's producers can expect steady orders from Indonesia despite the crisis.
Indonesia imported $15.2 billion worth of goods from China last year, while exporting $11.5 billion worth of goods to the country, according to Bank Indonesia statistics. Indonesia mostly sells natural resources and energy products to China, including palm oil, mining products and energy, and imports a wide variety of manufactured products from China, ranging from toys, home appliances, electronic goods and cellular phones, to food and giftware. As in many countries around the world, cheap Chinese-made manufactured products are dominant in the Indonesian market.
Last but not least, Chinese and Indonesian engineers and workers are busy putting the finishing touches on the Suramadu bridge, linking Surabaya and Madura Island. The 5.4-kilometer bridge, which is mostly financed with soft loans from China and scheduled for inauguration next month, will become a proud symbol of economic partnership between both countries, comparable to the Istora Senayan football stadium in Jakarta built by the Russians in the 1960s as a symbol of the then close partnership between both countries.
The Suramadu bridge, which will become the Indonesia's longest, is being worked on by the Indonesian consortium of PT Adhi Karya and PT Waskita Karya, along with a Chinese consortium of China Road and Bridge Corp. (CRBC) and China Harbor Engineering Co. Ltd (CHEC).
The loans for the PLN power projects and the Suramadu bridge mark a new phase the Indonesia-China economic relations. While in the past China was merely known here as the provider of cheap goods, it now also acts as a financier of mega projects in Indonesia - a role previously played by the United States, Europe, Japan and the World Bank.
Reports say PLN is eagerly offering its Second Phase 10,000 MW power projects to Chinese companies, and Chinese firms that are now building the Suramadu bridge have been asked to build several other bridges in Indonesia too. Thus, more Chinese funds are expected to flow into the country in the future, making China one of the largest lenders to Indonesia.
As lender, China has different characteristics to Europe, the US, Japan and international financial institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF that are controlled by the above-mentioned developed countries. While the latter group sets the adoption of the "Washington consensus" - a standard set of policies including privatization of state enterprises, free trade, deregulation and restraint in public spending - as requirements for their clients to get loans, China does not care about all these things.
In fact, all Chinese companies operating here, including those building the Suramadu bridge, are state-owned.
China's motive is business. They will lend as long as it will benefit the loan recipients as well as themselves (Chinese companies). The loans for the PLN projects and the Suramadu bridge, for instance, will ensure the projects being worked on by the Chinese firms will not stop halfway and the projects will help build the firms' reputations as world-class enterprises in the long term - a reputation that will make it easier for them to get projects from other corners of the globe.
Closer relations with China will undoubtedly have a positive impact on the Indonesian economy.
On the other hand, it could also inspire a new debate about the most suitable economic system for Indonesia. There are still many people here who categorically reject the Washington consensus and believe Indonesia has taken a wrong path by implementing privatization and liberalization enforced by the IMF during the previous economic crisis. For these people, China, the new good friend of Indonesia, is a good model.

Johannes Simbolon

The author is a staff writer of The Jakarta Post.

'Low road' no longer an option for leaders

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono can walk with his head held high once he leaves office.

THE suicide of South Korea's former president Roh Moo-hyun points to what's happening to leaders everywhere: they are becoming more accountable. Or should we say, more held to account? Before the Internet, before the push for internal transparency, before the advent of "people power", leaders had a pretty easy time plundering their countries. Who could stop them? The buck stopped at their desk, in more ways than one. South Korea is a shame culture and Roh did the needful, in his mind.
Not too long ago, you could more or less own a country, as Mobutu Sese Seko owned Congo or Zaire as he renamed it, you could allow all the roads to disappear into bush, so that potential opponents couldn't collaborate, while you luxuriated in your villa on the Cote d'Azur. The country went to and stayed in hell, mostly because of one man. Finally, a rebellion ended his rule but his country was all but dead and is now being torn apart from all sides.

Then there was another popular rebellion that put Gloria Arroyo in office, a PhD in economics who knew she could count on almost a decade in power. You would have thought her ambition would have been her legacy, if not the simple desire to benefit her country. But her legacy is that she's the most unpopular president in Filipino history -- and was rated the most corrupt in popular surveys.

She and her husband already had substantial wealth. But it's just overwhelmingly apparent that she doesn't want to leave Malacanang palace and will do anything to stay on.
She has just about run out of options. She recently "retired" the military and police heads ahead of schedule, giving them ambassadorships to Brunei and the Netherlands, so that she could get two generals whom she thinks she can count on in her last legal months in office, if an "emergency" transpires.
I think we know the kind she has in mind, the kind Ferdinand Marcos orchestrated to declare martial law. But most people think she can't get away with it, because of the "new rules" for leaders all over the world.
Or she can try what her people have been talking about -- seeking a "higher road" and run for the House of Representatives from her home province, Pampanga, anoint a successor with her massive funds, and then manouevre to bring about a parliamentary government, where she'll be the prime minister -- and her anointed successor just a figure-head. But there might be a lot of roadblocks for that. She just couldn't be less popular or more transparent in her obvious goals.
But the real point is that out of the palace, she's vulnerable. The new president only has to give a single piece of paper to a lawyer anywhere in the world to freeze properties of hers -- like those in San Francisco -- on the allegation that laundered money was used to acquire them.
Then all the lawyer has to do is untangle all the transactions in that first acquisition to trace all the others, and all the fronts, cut-outs and other legal frauds to launder money. It doesn't take long (full disclosure: I chair a company in Boston that does exactly this). This is another of the new rules governing leadership.
When the Philippines gets rated as the most corrupt country in Asia, it affects investor attitudes. And it just lowers the reputation of the country generally.
You'd think leaders would finally get the point. They are elected or appointed to be stewards of their country. And now there are terrifying consequences when they take the low road.
Richard M. Nixon bit the dust in 1974. Marcos, Suharto, and a long list of others got overthrown because of their corruption. The prime minister of Ukraine got convicted in the US for corruption, and other countries now have legal procedures for bagging leaders who've broken international law -- even when they're abroad.
A leader can do his job like a real professional -- like Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in Indonesia, and upon leaving office walk high all over the world, privileges and honour everywhere. Or they can risk all that for money -- something barely needed after high office, thanks to those very privileges a good leader is routinely extended.

In the Philippines, one man's leadership put down nine coup attempts, ended an insurgency and ethnic rebellion, and got his country out of its doldrums -- Fidel Ramos. Then a fool came to office and reversed most of the gains -- Joseph Estrada -- who even plays around with running again, after having been convicted of plunder.
In Malaysia, Ramos's counterpart, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, worked miracles and was never seriously attacked for corruption.
He transformed Malaysia from a primary-products exporter to a middle-size and highly respected industrialising state.
It's all about leadership.

W. Scott Thompson

The writer was emeritus professor at the Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy, Tufts University

Indonesia's poorly funded Military

Not enough money for the military?

Try sending them `back to barracks'

Last week's Hercules transport plane crash has triggered another
round of commentaries about the lamentable state of our
antiquated defense capability, which predictably led to urgent
calls for higher military spending.
The trouble with this line of argument is that we have heard it
all before, and no one has been able to come up with an
alternative solution on how to remedy the situation. The best
answer President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono came up with is that
military spending would be increased as soon as the economy

This is beginning to sound like a broken record, which will
disappear and be forgotten as soon as we move on to the next
issue, without the problem ever being fixed. We will return to
this theme again with the next (God forbid) tragedy or disaster,
affecting not only our defense equipment but worse still, our
military personnel. How many more tragic deaths can we really
Money is certainly an issue in building our defense capability,
but then again money is an issue with every sector, including
education, health and the economy.
Our defense sector is already the third largest beneficiary of
the government budget after education and public works. Those
who advocate higher military spending are essentially arguing
that building our defense capability is more important than
developing our education system, which many would argue is in
even worse condition.
Missing from this military budget debate is how we set our
priorities. The debate should be as much about how we spend the
money as how much we are spending.
As with any household budget, we have to live within our means,
so we have to get our priorities right. Typically, a lower
middle class family in Jakarta has to choose between replacing
the old car, sending the kids to a good school or college, or a
family holiday in Bali. Their choice would reflect their
priorities. It would be nice to be able to have all three, but
when this is not an option, we have to make do without one or

The military budget today is divided between the three services,
with the Army taking the lion's share, followed by the Navy and
the Air Force, a distant second and third. The division reflects
not so much the priorities of the military, as the power and
size (yes, size apparently matters in the military) of the three
As long as the military budget allocation is still dictated by
the internal politics of the TNI, any increase in defense
spending will not likely go where it is most needed, but instead
will go to the Army first, leaving the crumbs for the other two
Indonesia has thoroughly reformed its military in the last 11
years. No longer is it involved in practical politics, and, with
the removal of the police from the force (as the fourth
service), there is a much clearer division of labor between the
military, whose domain is strictly national defense, and the
police, which is responsible for security.
But this is a half-baked reform because the Army's huge
territorial command network across the nation has essentially
remained untouched.
This elaborate command structure, which goes all the way down to
the villages, had been instrumental during the military's "dual
function" days in discharging its security and political roles,
but today it is an anomaly, if not a sore point, in a democratic
Earlier calls to dismantle the huge command structure, and by
way of implication advocating a "back to barracks" concept,
received strong resistance from within the Army, which had
already made huge sacrifices by removing itself from practical
The commands remained on the pretext that their presence was
still needed to back up the police in their work to maintain
national security.
The Army is still much too visible even in big cities like
Jakarta, owning and occupying prime locations in the city, but
its presence is giving the impression to any first-time visitor
that Jakarta is not a safe place.
Dismantling the command structure, and sending soldiers back to
the barracks, where they belong in any democratic country, would
free up huge financial resources that could be better spent on
other sectors, like modernizing the Navy and Air Force weaponry.
Closing down the territorial commands and selling their premium
property would also generate revenue that could be spent on
building new Navy and Air Force bases that would enable
Indonesia to protect its vast territorial waters and air space.
The way it is at the moment, our military excels at suppressing
peaceful demonstrators with the deployment of their tanks and
armored cars, but are completely helpless in chasing out foreign
vessels stealing our fish in our largely unprotected waters or
chasing after foreign planes intruding into our air space.
The Jakarta Post
May 27, 2009 by Endy M. Bayuni

World Bank and Corruption

World Bank Generous to a Fault
The International Development Association (IDA), the arm of the World Bank that makes grants and interest-free, long-term loans to poor countries around the world, lacks effective safeguards against corruption, according to a report by the bank's own Independent Evaluation Group (IEG).
The damning report concluded that IDA, which lends and grants about US$10 billion annually to governments in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Eastern Europe, doesn't
After 13 years of rhetoric deploring fraud and corruption, the World Bank's management hasn't even minimally equipped its staff to protect IDA funds.
Since its establishment in 1960, IDA's loans and grants have totaled over $193 billion, and indications are that the global financial crisis will provide a rationale for increasing annual
lending. During the bank's last fiscal year, Vietnam and India were the two top beneficiaries of IDA funds: Vietnam borrowed nearly $1.2 billion and India received over $800 million, although both countries had been previously assessed in separate reviews as running projects with a high probability of corruption.
A review of two of Vietnam's infrastructure projects found "a proliferation of indicators of collusion, fraud, misrepresentation and preferential treatment in the procurement and award of contracts. The DIR also found vulnerabilities to irregularities in the projects' financial management activities and control environment. Lastly, a large number of the project sites visited by the DIR team showed design and construction irregularities in works."

The depth and breadth of the accountability weaknesses exposed at IDA are alarming.
The real problem at the bank is a failure of will at the top. The Government Accountability Project (where I work), for example, found that Wolfensohn, while flogging anti-corruption
measures on the one hand, silenced staff members who tried to warn investors that an international criminal was hijacking a privatization scheme in Azerbaijan.
And Wolfowitz, while touring Africa preaching anti-corruption, was feathering his girlfriend's nest and quietly suppressing an INT report that showed Joseph Kabila, president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, allowing his girlfriend to feather
hers with the World Bank's money. Not incidentally, the funds she took were intended to finance airlifts to transfer Congolese children from war zones.

Extract from Asia Times
(From Foriegn Policy in Focus)
Thursday, May 28, 2009 By Bea Edwards

Bea Edwards is the Government Accountability Project's
International program director and a Foreign Policy In Focus

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Indonesia Rejects Rudd's Asia Plan

Indonesia Rejects Rudd's Asia Plan
Indonesia’s Defence Minister Juwono Sudarsono has dismissed Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's push for an all-encompassing "Asia-Pacific community" to tackle regional
security threats, suggesting the idea is too broad to have a realistic chance of success.
Rudd is expected to again raise his proposal — aimed at strengthening ties to combat common security, economic and political problems — at a meeting of regional defence ministers in Singapore this week.

Indonesia preferred to work through forums such as the Association of South-East Asian Nations. Officials also questioned fears raised following the release of the Australian defence white paper of a budding arms race across the region to counter the rising military might of China.
Jakarta backed assessments that US military presence in the Asia-Pacific region was undergoing a "recalibration" and said this justified Australia's plans to strengthen its naval strike force with extra submarines and frigates.

Monday, May 25, 2009

West Papua - The Next breakaway Province?

Indonesia’s President SBY's chances to prove his leadership in tackling insurgency and sectarian conflicts would rest on how he would quell tensions in the volatile province of Papua.
The country's easternmost province of Papua is underdeveloped
but rich in natural resources with a majority of Christian
population. Although Papua was given special autonomy in 2002,
tension continues to run high as a low key separatist movement
still wages independence campaigns. Clashes between security
personnel and rebels of the Free Papua Organization have erupted
occasionally out of trivial disputes.
In a sign of embracing defiant Papua, SBY invited exiled founder
of the Free Papua Movement Nicolas Jouwe to Jakarta in March to
ask him to help end the four-decade of rebellion. However, a
chance for long-standing peace remains bleak as Nicolas's return
to fulfil the government's invitation has enraged separatist
leaders in Papua, stoking even more tension with the military.
The geographically-isolated Papua has become the center of
attention from major powers like the United States, whose copper
and gold mining company Freeport has been operating for some 40
years on the island while the natives have lived in poverty and

Bali Updates

BALI UPDATE #663 - 25 May 2009

OzJet Perth-Bali Service Grounded.
Tuesday, May 19th Flight Grounded in Perth Due to Unpaid Bills to Perth Airport Authorities.

The future of the twice-weekly Perth to Bali service operated by OzJet and IndoJet is now in question with the Australian company placing itself in voluntary administration as a move to stave off closure.
A group of around 60 Australian tourist were stranded on Tuesday, May 19, 2009, when the Boeing 737-200 operated by OzJet, in cooperation with their Indonesian partner IndoJet, failed to leave for Bali as scheduled.
While Melbourne-based OzJet tried to lay the blame for the cancelled service on the Australian Civil Aviation Authorities' refusal to grant them a license to carry cargo and on their Indonesian partners, a more likely explanation was the refusal of Perth Airport to service the flights in the face of "hundreds of thousands of dollars" in unpaid fees due the airport. Meanwhile, the Australian Civil Aviation Authorities have issued a statement that OzJet had never filed a formal request for cargo services.
OzJet primarily operates flights to remote mining communities in Western Australian in addition to its twice weekly flights to Bali.
While there are reports that OzJets flight to Derby may now be operating with chartered aircraft, there is still no news on the fate of its international service to Bali.
OzJet is the third Australian airline to go into administration over the past year, following in the footsteps of SkyAirWorld and MacAir.

Toke, Toke, Toke that Cigarette
Indonesian Clove Cigarette Producers Suggest More than Just the Air is Being Fouled by U.S. Government Moves to Ban Popular Scented Indonesian Cigarettes.

The U.S. government is moving to ban the use of cigarette flavorings as a step to discourage teenagers from taking up smoking. Cherry, chocolate and clove additives will be banned if legislation being considered by the U.S. Senate is passed. Specifically exempted from the proposed ban, after intense lobbying by the U.S. tobacco industry, is the used of mint-flavored menthol cigarettes such as Marlboro Smooth.
As anyone who has ever visited Indonesia can confirm, the distinctive pervasive smell of burning cloves mixedd with Indonesian tobacco greets the nose wherever Indonesian's gather to 'light up' their overwhelmingly preferred tobacco product. So large, in fact, is the Indonesian clove cigarette industry that Indonesia holds the distinction of being both the largest producer as well as the largest importer of cloves in the world; all needed to feed the almost insatiable demand for clove-laced smokes.
The Indonesian Ambassador to the U.S.A., Sudjadnan Parnohadiningrat, has gone on record condemning the proposed legislation as 'blatantly favoring a domestically produced product over an imported one' if the legislation allows menthol flavoring to the exclusion of other flavorings, such as cloves.
The potential for the matter to become increasingly incendiary in the months ahead is the threat from the Indonesian government to bring the matter to the World Trade Organization which could jeopardize the $22 billion-a-year trade relationship with Indonesia.
Indonesia exports an estimated US$500 million in clove or Kretek cigarettes every year, with approximately 20% of that total destined for U.S. markets.

Top Athletes to Join MRA Bali International Triathlon.
For Spectators and Athletes Alike, a Memorable Day Promised on June 28th at MRA Bali International Triathlon.

With just 5 weeks left until the 3rd MRA Bali International Triathlon on Sunday, June 28, 2009, organizers report that athletes registering for the individual and group events are slightly ahead of last year, when compared on a year-on-year basis.
Now a permanent fixture on Bali's sport's calendar, the MRA Bali International Triathlon is comprised of a 1.5 km swim in Jimbaran Bay, a 40 km bike race down Bali's southernmost peninsula and finishing with a 10 km road race through the village of Jimbaran. Held simultaneously with the triathlon is a 5 km fun run.
Reflecting the growing interest in triathlon in Asia and Indonesia, there is a marked increase in regional and domestic registrations this year. Indonesian swimming icon Richard Sambera will return to Bali this June, competing as an individual triathlete. Sambera, editor of Men's Fitness (Indonesia) and FHM (Indonesia), will use the race to bring to a close a series of articles on training and preparing for a triathlon featured in Men's Fitness' recent issues.
Following Sambera to Bali will be a number of Indonesian national athletes competing as corporate team relay members. 2007 Southeast Asia Game Silver Medalist Andy Wibowo and national swimming star Ira Kurniawan will travel to Bali together with champion cyclist Nurhayati and marathon runner Maria Lawalata. The Bali race is also promises to lure back a number of the athletes who participated in the 2008 Asian Beach games.
Last year's overall winner, Luke McKenzie, and his partner-fellow triathlete Amanda Balding will fly in to Bali from sporting engagements in Tokyo to join the 2009 Bali race. McKenzie's and Balding's appearance in Bali is made possible through the generous support of Garuda Indonesia.
A special festival will be held at Race Central on yhe morning of June 28th at Coconut Grove Beach, opposite the Four Seasons Resort in Jimbaran. The Four Seasons in cooperation with the Intercontinental Bali Resort are the main hotel sponsors for this year's event. The festival, running throughout the morning of the race, will include live music, games, food and beverage outlets, commercial stands and free massages from Jari Menari
Registered race participants will receive high quality race t-shirts, competitor swim caps, a pre-race high-carbohydrate dinner at the Four Seasons Resort at Jimbaran Bay, invitations to a post race lunch and party, discounted tours and water sports activities during their stay in Bali, and special rates at Bali hotels. Prizes from Bali hotels and other businesses will be presented with a custom-made trophy for each age and gender category donated by Jenggala Ceramics.
Also joining as a major sponsor this year is Counterpain - the popular analgesic ointment produced by Bristoil-Meyers.
And, as in years past, BIMC Hospital will be providing field hospital services for the race.
Related Websites
[MRA Bali International Triathlon Website]
[Luke McKenzie Website]
[Amanda Balding Website]

Superman is Dead! Long Live Superman.
Kuta Punk Rock Band Poised to Shake Up the American Music Scene During 35 Day Concert Tour.

Bali's punk rock pioneers Superman is Dead (SID) are about to embark on a major U.S.A. tour, spreading their unique style of Kuta Rock on tour dates between June 2 - July 9, 2009. During those 35 days SID will perform some 18 concert gigs in 17 cities, including a multi-city segment with the legendary Vans Warped Tour, only the second Asian band to be invited to do so.
Playing together in one form or another since 1995, Bobby Kool (lead vocals and guitar), Eka Rock (bass player and backing vocalist) and Jerink (drummer) - the three men who comprise Superman is Dead have more than paid their dues with minor indie labels and gigs at less than salubrious dives before finally singing a record deal with Sony-BMG in 2003.
That hard fought negotiation with Sony-BMG included the understanding that the band would be allowed to record most of their numbers in English and also have complete control over their own image. All this from a band who narrowly escaped the Bali bombing of 2002 that took place only 75 meters from their Kuta base.
The U.S.A. tour will allow audiences there to see first hand the musicians who pack Bali's music venues whenever they play and understand why the band has won numerous music awards.
When asked to self-describe their musical style, the band says they are Punk-Rock-a-Bali a mixture of sounds inspired by U.S.A. punk legends NOFX (pronounced No Ef-Ex) and Social Distortion, supersonically fueled with beer-soaked Balinese Rockabilly attitude. Got it? That description alone should drive droves of punk rock devotee to SIDs concerts or conversely serve as fair warning to others get out of town before these guys take the stage.
Proudly Balinese despite their firm embrace of cutting edge punk rock, SID put on a powerful hyper-ventilated stage performance. Girls, and perhaps not a few guys, are drawn to this trio of over-heated musicians with tattooed chiseled physiques, on ready display once their shirts get ditched as the concert cranks up. Accordingly, those expecting to see three demure Balinese guys, all smiles and socially reticent are in for a surprise: This band says what it wants to say, how it wants to say it, and, to be more precise, what they have to say they do so straight in your face.
Mothers of America, lock your daughters at home. These guys love their punk rock, cold beer and night-long partying.
U.S.A. Tour Dates and Cities
- June 02, 2009 Key Club, Los Angeles, California
- June 05, 2009 New York City with the Rock USA Tour
- June 06, 2009 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with the Rock USA Tour
- June 07, 2009 Washington, D.C. with the Rock USA Tour
- June 13, 2009 Los Angeles, California with the Rock USA Tours
- June 19, 2009 Seattle, Washington with the Rock USA Tour
- June 20, 2009 Seattle, Washington with the Rock USA Tour
- June 26, 2009 Pomona Fairplex, Pomona, California
- June 27, 2009 Pier 30/32, San Francisco, California
- June 28, 2009 Seaside Park, Ventura, California
- June 30, 2009 Cricket Pavilion, Phoenix, California
- July 01, 2009 NMSU Pan American Center, Los Angeles, California
- July 02, 2009 AT& T Center, San Antonio, Texas
- July 03, 2009 The Showgrounds at Sam Houston Race Park, Houston, Texas
- July 05, 2009, Dallas, Texas
- July 07, 2009 Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, Indianapolis, Indiana
- July 08, 2009 Post Gazette Pavilion at Star Lake, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
- July 09, 2009 Time Warner Cable Amphitheatre, Cleveland, Ohio
Related Website
[Superman is Dead Website]

Little Bali Support for Taller Buildings
Bali Tourism Leaders Voice Their Opposition to Any Change that Will Allow 33 Meter High Buildings.

Efforts in some circles to change Bali's zoning and building regulations (RTRWP) to permit the building of 33 meters high structures - more than twice the current limit of 15 meters, is gaining virtually no support from Bali religious leaders, academicians, social commentators and tourism figures - all united in their opposition to the proposed building code change.
I Gusti Bagus Yudhara, past chairman of the Bali branch of the Indonesian Association of Travel Agents (ASITA), told the Bali Post that any agreement to change to current height limitation would only serve to open the door for changes in other areas. Yudhara said special exclusions for hospitals, schools, universities and public markets to allow structures standing 33 meters would be used as the basis for seeking wider exemptions for other classes of buildings in the future.
Elaborating on his reasons for opposing the change in maximum height rules, Yudhara said taller buildings would add to the general disorder in Bali and put added strain on an already over-burdened infrastructure. Finally, he sees permission for taller buildings as threatening the special character of the island and, in turn, its long-term sustainability as a tourism destination.
Arguing for retaining the 15 meter maximum height rule, Yudhara said that limited land area problems could be better addressed by allowing new buildings in Bali's north and east in accordance with approved zoning laws and supported by good access roads.
Separately, another tourism activist, Putu Juliadi, condemned plans to change the height restriction as not reflecting the Balinese people's love of culture, art and religion. Changes in the current rules, he insisted, would only serve special segments of society at the cost of Bali's future.
The Chairman of the Bali Chapter of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI), Tjokorda Artha Ardhana Sukawati, sees no need for a change to the current rules, fearing any change would have a negative impact on Bali's tourism industry.

Bali Sani Paadma and Bali Sani Suites to be Sold at Auction.
Denpasar Court Ruling Paves the Way for Sale of Two Hotels Embroiled in Conflict Betweeb its Owners Since 2001.

Radar Bali reports that the Denpasar District Court has approved the petition of a part owner of the Bali Sani Hotel to be allowed to sell the hotel at public auction. Ruling on May 14, 2009, judge Istining Kadariswati, affirmed the right of Lie Thien Ping to auction the hotel and also ruled that the defendant, Soeharjo Gondo, had violated the law by attempting to run the hotel unilaterally and by selling five vehicles owned by the company.
The judge dissolved the joint ownership of both the Hotel Grand Bali Sani Suites and the Hotel Bali Sani Padma, granting Lie Thien Ping the right to sell the hotels, land, furniture, inventories and other items via auction. The judge also fined Soehardjo Gondo and affirmed the current seizure of the hotels assets.
Trouble at the hotels date from 2001 when Surabaya businessmen Soehardjo Gondo and Lie Thein Ping purchased the hotel together with Hendy Setiawan of Bali from the Bank Restructuring Agency. The value of that transaction was Rp. 23 billion (US$2 million) with management of the hotels to be handled by PT Sani Mitra Lestari. Based on the respective investment of each party, Soehardjo Gondo was issued 45% of the available shares, an amount equal to the shares held by Lie Thien Ping. The remaining 10% of the shares were issued to Hendy Setiawan.
Relations between Lie and Soehardjo soured over time, with Soehardjo taking over the management of the hotels, reportedly without consulting the remaining two shareholders.
In his successful efforts to regain his share of the hotels, Lie Thien Ping also filed a civil suit against Soehardjo and a criminal complaint with the police alleging malfeasance and providing false statements.

Cleaning Up our Act.
Norwegian Property Agent and Developer Urges Bali to Not Compromise When it Comes to Preserving its Cultural Values.

Bali Post has carried an interview with a Norwegian property agent and developer, Terje H. Nilsen, urging Bali to protect its identity and unique attractiveness. He is particularly intent that Bali preserve it cultural vales which differentiate it from other destinations. Nilsen explained, "tourism surveys by several international institutions have the same results: the main reasons international tourist are attracted to Bali are the people of Bali and their culture."
A number of foreign travel publications have repeatedly cited Bali as the best holiday destination in the world, always citing the people and culture 'factors' as the basis for such awards. Nilsen concluded: 'So we have to hold onto this fact. Quit looking for something new when everything is already here in Bali's local values.'
Nilsen believes that one of the things most admired by foreigners visiting Bali is the island's loyalty to tradition and the rules handed down by their ancestors. One of these rules is the limitation on the height of building which must not surpass the height of a coconut tree (15 meters). Nilsen see this restriction in both a spiritual and ecological context.
The Norwegian businessman feels that when people visit Bali they are overjoyed to see that buildings do not hamper views. Adding: "You can imagine if small Bali is covered with 33 meter high hospitals, universities, schools and markets as is currently being proposed. If special exemptions are given, hotels and other sorts of building will follow."
Nilsen told the Bali Post that he hoped Bali would not destroy itself by taking steps that will weaken its unique position in the world. He urged Bali to study from a number of destinations in Southern Europe who abandoned their unique identities in search of "something new" only to find tourists and investors lost any interest in their cities.
Citing an example from his own country of Norway where a small town controls all its old buildings and tourist objects with a very firm hand. The government and tourism stakeholders know that permission to construct a new building, even for private use, is very selective. "To ask permission to replace only a window, is very difficult," said Nilsen.
He feels that the investors allowed to come to Bali have been able to do so without any selectivity. There are those who have built as their heart desires, often only thinking of return on investment and no concern with local style and nuance. This has happened because Bali's law is not firm and officials are prepared to compromise. As a result, we have building permits issued form structures standing in the green zone or near temples. "Frankly, I am very worried," said Nilsen.
Foreign investors should be more careful. Usually they will ask first what and where they can build and use eco-friendly construction methods. If they get "strange information" these people will choose not to invest. Genuine investors know there are global rules on investing. What's more, the European Union will require from 2016 that all resorts built in their territories must be environmentally friendly," he explained.
In addition to examining zoning rule, Nilsen also focused on the ownership of tourism assets in Bali, 85% of which he claims are held by people from outside Bali. He sees that as a rampant situation with the potential of sparking social conflict. He asks and then warns: "Where will the Balinese people be exiled to from the homeland? If we are not careful, this is what well happen."
Other Views
Two tourists from California, John and Lynn Gordon, share the same opinion. They did not come all the way to Bali to see skyscrapers, of which there are many "back home." Tourists come to Bali to experience its religious feelings and uniqueness in the world.
John Gordon sees the suggestion to allow higher buildings as a form of greed. This is a mistake which should be corrected. John and Lynn admit that they came to Bali because of its unique culture, beautiful nature and well-preserved temples. John Gordon said: "The sacredness of your temples must be safeguarded. Many of us tourists come to Bali because of the presence of temples."
Regina, a tourist from Jakarta, also objects if Bali follows in the footsteps of Jakarta and other large cities in Indonesia allowing skyscrapers to be built. Regina, who together with her group, has come to Bali on numerous occasions, sees current development in Bali as uncontrolled. She said that Bali can develop, but that development must be guided by a good zoning law. "We're having a hard time finding Bali's identity," Regina said. "Except for the construction of temples, building and development are no longer defined. This will get worse if the suggestion to change the height of building and allows tall structures to be built is approved. In Jakarta we have tall buildings, we go to Bali and they also have tall buildings? This is getting tiresome."

Pulling the Plug on New Investment.
Inadequate Electrical Supply is Contributing to Slowdown of New Investments in Bali.

The Jakarta Post reports that limited power supplies are causing headaches for domestic and foreign investors in Bali.
Quoting the vice-chairman of the Bali branch of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce (KADIN), Tedja Nandi Yasa, the lack of power on Bali's electrical grid has become severe: "We (Kadin) have been working hard to promote Bali, but the anxiety over the minimum electricity supply has eliminated almost 50 percent of the chance to invest here."
According to Yasa, efforts to lobby both the central and provincial government to takes steps to increase electrical supplies have had minimum effect.
It's unclear how much the lack of electrical power is to blame for the steep downturn in new investment in Bali. The Bali Invesment Coordinating Board (BKPM-Bali) reported only US$5.12 million in new investment during Q1 2009 against a targeted US$572 million.
Currently, Bali's power grid has the capacity of handling 562 megawatts with peak hour consumption reaching 490 megawat.
In a step to supplement power reserves, a controversial coal-powered plant is being built at Celukan Bawang in North Bali. Although designed to add 390 megwatts of additional power, that project is encountering numerous delays and is unlikely to come on line as scheduled by the end of 2010.
Alternative plans to install an extra-high-voltage aerial transmission line (SUTET) to bring 1,000 megwattas of power to Bali from East Java have been vetoed by Bali's governor. The governor's objections were reportedly based on his concrn that the proposed high power transmission lines would transect the the West Bali National Park, home of the last population of endangered Bali Starlings, and sacred temple areas on Bali.
Economist Wayan Ramantha from Bali's Udayana University has pointed to Bali's poor infrastructure and public facilities as also contributing to the island's lack of attractiveness to potential investors. He also cited the lack of clear regulations and taxation systems.

Keeping a Low-Profile Branding for Bali.
Noted Balinese Economist Lays Out Why He is Joining the Chorus of Those Opposed to Increasing Building Height Restrictions to 33 Meters.

The following interview with noted Balinese economist, Professor Dr. W. Ramantha, appeared in the May 20, 2009, edition of Bali Post. Dr. Ramanatha, who also serves as a Commissioner for the Bali Tourism Development Corporation, is the Dean of the Economic Faculty at Bali's Udayana University. What follows is a free translation of that interview.
Bali Post: What is the economic impact of the suggestion to allow buildings of up to 33 meters in height in Bali?
Professor Ramantha: What must be first understood is that the economy of Bali is very dependent on tourism, while the capital of tourism is culture. Thus, the suggestion to increase the building height requirement to 33 meters is an idea that that will hurt the "working capital" of tourism (i.e. culture), making the proposal economically unsupportable as it will negatively impact Bali's economy.
Bali Post: What must be done to profit Bali?
Professor Ramantha: Preserve the provincial rules on building height in place since the time of Professor Mantra's period of service as Bali's governor. By keeping the rule that does not allow buildings higher than a coconut palm (15 meters), Bali will preserve its branding, creating an added value to the island's economy.
Bali Post : How much does this matter in terms of a fair distribution of economic benefits?
Professor Ramantha: It's very significant. By holding to the existing rules, tourism investment, especially in the accommodation sector, will not be only focused on Bali's southern regions. New investments will spread to other regencies, each with their own potential and unique attractions.
Bali Post: What's the impact on investment in Bali?
Professor Ramantha : It is precisely by safeguarding the unique characteristics embodied in our building codes that the accommodation sector will profit. Our unique buildings cause tourists to pay more to stay in our hotels and this increase the income of hotels in Bali.

We Get Mail.
Strippers, Balinese Tradition, Airport Management, Alcohol Taxes and an Interview with Bali's Update Editor - All Subjects That Caused Readers to Write In.

The Bare Necessities of Kuta Night-Life
Our article on community protests to Kuta strippers [The Bare Necessities of Kuta Night-Life] bringing their show onto public streets prompted several readers to write:
- Danlee Mitchell wrote:
"If tourists want discos, let them have discos. But I would ban any such professional, demonstrative dancing by local women, as it degrades the tradition, ideals and people of Bali. Bali is the last "heaven on earth" locations on this planet, and should remain so."
- Maxine Barron of Australia had this to say:
"I come to Bali 3-4 times a year with friends and family. I love the night life, but I too am offended at the stripper looking girls in Kuta, especially outside Sky Garden. Last time I was looking forward to eating at Sky Garden, but when we arrived we quickly kept walking. I was disgusted, and did not want to go there."
- Repesse commented :
"I may sound like an 'old fart' as the expression goes, but having recently witnessed night life in that area, I have a slight problem with what I saw. A degree of prostitution never witnessed to that extent before. A degree of noise pollution which would be (and should be) outlawed in almost all 'western' countries. A degree of violence never seen before, with drunken foreign youth's verbally provoking and insulting armed police. (A newly married New Zealand boy was killed there the week I was there!) Discriminatory cover charges required from Indonesian citizens only, while 'bules' access these night spots free of charge! All of the above taking place in a spot where the lives of so many youths were brutally destroyed. It made me feel uneasy and not in equation with the notions I have held so far of Bali. Also not exactly a dignified attitude in memory of the 202 youths whose lives were destroyed on that very spot. I just hope and pray that Bali does not become the Indonesian Phuket!
Editorial: Bali Choose Tradition Before Innovation
The guest editorial by Professor Dr. Ir. Wayan Windia [Bali: Choose Tradition Before Innovation] earned applause from several quarters:
- Meredith wrote:
"So good to see someone standing for the values that drew people to Bali in the first place. The beauty and uniqueness of Bali is the reason that I don't want to go to Koh Samui or worse still Phuket. These places are tourist rackets where everyone seems to be trying to make money out of the tourists with a few theme parks, nice hotels and not much else (also with increasing desperation, which can make going there a bit stressful) To go to Bali (and not the southern beaches, which are somewhat spoiled), is to enter into a culture of great beauty, where tradition is intact. It is being a "visitor" and not just a "tourist". This is what makes me want to go back and also to want to contribute to an island that has so generously given me so much in so many ways. If the cultural integrity of Bali is supported, ultimately everyone benefits, in my belief, so good luck to those farseeing ones who are thoughtful enough to be encouraging this, in contrast to short term "practical considerations". Not all tourists are stupid, and most people are more delighted with the genuine unsolicited experiences of the tourist experience rather than a visit to a theme park could ever provide. These can be created anywhere."
- Neil Blok contributed :
"Just hold on to your tanah air ku, and never ever sell freehold land to foreigners. If they don't like it they can stuff it!"
Pak Legowo: Please Listen to the Governor
Our Editorial Calling on the Manager of Bali's Ngurah Rai Airport [Pak Legowo: Please Listen to the Governor] to listen to the advice of Bali's Governor in how the island's airport should be run evoked a number of strong reactions:
- Linda Glasson, emailing from Australia, said:
"As a frequent visitor to Bali, I wholeheartedly agree with your article. There is a distinct lack of choice of available food and what there is of dubious quality. The baggage claim area is rather sad for an international airport. As you rightly state, there are too many foreign exchange vendors. Pak Legowo needs an education in effective marketing. Cheers & keep up the great work!"
- Peter Wrycza, living in Bali, chimed in :
"Totally agree with you! Thanks for speaking up. The focus on continual commercialization at the expense of the traveler's experience is indeed symptomatic of what has been happening to Bali. Let's hope Governor Pastika can stem the tide."
Higher Admission Rates at Kertha Gosa
The article [Higher Admission Rates at Kertha Gosa] prompted a comparison:
- Greg Waite of New Zealand wrote:
"The new rates are extraordinarily cheap since parking nearby is very cheap. The complex is magnificent & the museum, although in need of professional curation skills, is worthwhile. Why didn't they make it $2.50 so they can build a restoration fund?"
Government Alcohol Import Tax Branded a Failure
Our coverage of a survey by a Jakarta think-tank critical of Indonesia's high import duties on liquor [Government Alcohol Import Tax Branded a Failure] brought a comment from an Indonesian reader.
- David Clark wrote to say:
"I just today returned from 2 days in Kuala Lumpur and cannot agree more with this study. When I saw that the supermarkets in KL have large supplies and displays of imported wine at very reasonable prices I wonder what Malaysia knows that Indonesia doesn't? Both countries have similar cultural and religious traditions. Yet Malaysians can buy a good bottle of imported wine for $10! The government should understand that people who want to abuse alcohol do not choose imported wine. And I know from friends on Bali in the tourist business that these high prices have greatly reduced the sales in restaurants at a time when the economic situation is already a challenge."
Interview with Jack Daniels
The reprint of an interview from "Now Bali" with Bali Update's Editor [Interview with Jack Daniels] brought emails from a number of friends.
- Kathy Loper of Kathy Loper Events wrote:
"Jack, I really enjoyed reading the interview. You are a fantastic person to know, someone who truly loves BALI & its wonderful people, and all it has to offer. It is my pleasure in knowing you and looking forward to working with you again in the future."
- One of Bali's respected Hoteliers, Nyoman Astawa, wrote :
"The interview with "Now Bali" featured in this week's Bali Update was an excellent update. It was encouraging, inspiring and stimulating positive spirit for Bali and its tourism industry. Job well done and please keep it up!"
- Adele Baker from Australia made our Editor blushed when she chimed in to say :
"What a gorgeous interview and if i knew how handsome you were i would have insisted we had a drink and not just chats over the phone! Congratulations and keep up your great efforts!! "
- Bali's famous novelist, Diana Darling wrote in :
"Hey Jack, you look so presidential in that picture. Interesting to read about all your accomplishments. Keep up the good work."

One Earth School Opens in Bali.
Anand Krishna Opens Bali School in Bali Dedicated to Excellence and Wisdom in a Globalizing World.

May 2, 2009, coinciding with National Education Day, saw the opening of Bali's newest educational institution One Earth School located on Jalan Mertasari IV, in the Pemgoan area of South Denpasar. Established by the Anand Krishna Foundation, the school commences operation in the 2009/2010 school year with the operation of a playgroup and kindergarten.
The inauguration of the new school was officiated over by Bali's governor, Made Mangku Pastika, who signed a cornerstone with the following inscription:
With the grace of All-Love, and in the name of the love that is unconditional and infinite, One Earth School is developing the hearts and minds of the young in order to foster willpower, wisdom and excellence in action, as a means to achieve a new world order founded on love, peace and harmony.
The school founder and well-known author and spiritual leadr, Anand Krishna, told those attending the opening ceremony that the One Earth School was established to create a new type of fully-formed individual capable of facing the challenges of globalization without losing their place in their traditional community.
Adopting a holistic approach to education, One Earth School will emphasize the culture of Indonesia and the region in equipping young people with willpower, wisdom and excellence in action.
Krishna announced that the new school would set aside 17% of its seats for economically disadvantaged children.
Governor Pastika enthusiastically welcomed the establishment of the One Earth School, hoping that the school would create new atmosphere in Bali's education system, providing a quality alternative for the education of the island's children.

Bali's Seafood Exports Increase.
Seafood Exports from Bali in 2008 Generate US$106 million.

In 2008, Bali exported 3.3 tons of frozen lobsters with a value of US$330,000, an increase of 7.10% from the 3.08 tons exported the previous year.
Lobster are just one of 27 different seafood exports produced by Bali's fishing industry which include tuna, kerapau, mahi-mahi, crabs, napoleon and bandeng. The value of all Bali seafood exports in 2008 totaled US$106.22 million covering 32.17 tons of product.
Bali is also a major producer of giant freshwater prawns (Udang Galah), with production centered in the Gianyar regency. However, most of 189.9 tons of giant freshwater prawns produced in Bali are destined for domestic consumption.

Bali Street Children Painting Exhibition.
Paintings, Calendars and Postcards Created By Bali Street Children Sales & Exhibition May 29 - June 5 at Zanzibar in Legian.

The Yayasan Kasih Peduli Anak (YKPA) is a foundation dedicated to helping Balinese growing group of "street kids" secure a future away from the dangerous and often predatory atmosphere of begging on street corners. The foundation operates shelter group homes, beach schools, reading education projects, scholarship/sponsorship programs, village interventions, medical assistance and practical skill training.
Bali Street Children Painting Exhibition
The YKPA will be holding an exhibition of paintings, postcards and calendars produced by the street kids from May 29 - June 5, 2009 at the Zanzibar on Jalan Arjuna, Legian Beach.
The grand opening of the exhibition, open to the public, takes place at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, May 29, 2009 with traditional Balinese dances performed by "the kids" at 6:30 p.m..
Drop by the Zanzibar to view the art, make a purchase to help the foundation in its work and learn more about their various projects to assist Bali's street children.
For more information on the exhibition or the work of YKPA contact its founder, Puti Etiartini, at telephone ++62 (0)81337411112 or ++62 (0)361-8037322.