Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Business & Trade updates from Jakarta

- Krakatau Steel 2008 Net Pft IDR459.57 Bln Vs IDR313.44 Bln
- Indonesia SMF Ups Bond Issuance Size To IDR300B From IDR200B
- Indonesian Transport Ministry Revokes Licenses Of 27 Airlines
- Indonesia's Hexindo Set To Chalk Up $189 Mln In Income
- Holders Of Indonesian Telco Mobile-8 Bonds Agree On Roll Over
- Profit Of Indonesia's Bank Jabar Banten Up 76 Per Cent
- Indonesia Gives State Bank Of India Foreign Exchange Status
- Indonesia's CMNP Set To Carry Out Antasari-Depok Toll Road Project
- Indonesia's Tunas Hopes To Up Export Earning Despite Falling Price
- Indonesia's Petrochemical Industry Will Suffer Under Afta
- Indonesia Rejects Loans With Commitment Fee: Fin. Minister
- Indonesia's Inflation Predicted To Hit All-Time Low In June
- Indonesia, Turkey Agree To Double Trade In Five Years
(Courtesy Joyo News Service)
Krakatau Steel 2008 Net Pft IDR459.57 Bln Vs IDR313.44 Bln
JAKARTA, June 29 (Dow Jones)--PT Krakatau Steel said Tuesday its
net profit for 2008 rose to IDR459.57 billion ($44.7 million)
from IDR313.44 billion a year earlier on higher sales.
The unlisted state-owned steel producer said that its sales for
the year rose to IDR20.63 trillion from IDR14.84 trillion.
Krakatau Steel said that its gross profit increased to IDR2.72
trillion in 2008 from IDR1.77 trillion a year before.
The company didn't provide comment on its performance.
The government is waiting for approval from parliament to kick
off a plan to sell part of its stake in Krakatau Steel to the
Indonesia SMF Ups Bond Issuance Size To IDR300B From IDR200B
JAKARTA, June 30 (Dow Jones)--Indonesian state-owned secondary
mortgage-facility provider PT Sarana Multigriya Finansial
increased the size of a one-year bond issue to IDR300 billion
from IDR200 billion due to ample demand, its President Director
Erica Soeroto said Tuesday.
The bonds, issued Monday, have an annual coupon of 10.125%.
"SMF will become a regular bond issuer and will use the proceeds
as mortgage loan only, not for other purposes," Soetoro told Dow
Jones Newswires.
The company, established in 2005, had a net profit of IDR77.26
billion last year, an increase of 19%.
Indonesian Transport Ministry Revokes Licenses Of 27 Airlines
JAKARTA, June 29 Asia Pulse - The Indonesain Transport Ministry
has officially revoked the licenses held by 27 airlines after 12
months failing to start or resume operation.
Air Transport Director General Herry Bakti S. Gumay said 16 of
the holders were to operate scheduled flights and 11 holders to
operate chartered flights.
Herry said based on a ministerial regulation, airlines failing
to operate in 12 successive months would have their licenses
The 27 companies may resume operation but they have to meet a
new regulation that requires a new airline serving scheduled
flights to operate at least 10 aircraft and at least five units
of which are own aircraft.
Under the new regulation an operator of chartered flights is
required to operate at least 5 aircraft with at least two unit
own aircraft, the newspaper Bisnis Indonesia said.
Indonesia's Hexindo Set To Chalk Up $189 Mln In Income
JAKARTA, June 30 Asia Pulse - Indonesian heavy equipment company
PT Hexindo Adiperkasa (JSX:HEXA) said it is set to chalk up
US$189.43 million in income in a year ending March 2010.
Sales of heavy equipment would contribute most to the income,
Hexindo President Manuntun Situmorang said.
The company will focus on sales of heavy equipment for the
mining sector, Situmorang said, adding, his company leads in the
market of giant excavators needed in the sector.
The company hopes to sell 1,121 units of heavy equipment valued
at US$101.4 million including to the mining, construction,
agribusiness and forestry sectors.
Its also hopes to earn from the sales of spare parts and heavy
equipment maintenance service, he was quoted as saying by the
newspaper Investor Daily.
Holders Of Indonesian Telco Mobile-8 Bonds Agree On Roll Over
JAKARTA, June 30 Asia Pulse - Holder of the bonds of debt
burdened cellular phone operator PT Mobile-8 Telecom agreed to
restructure a Rp675 billion (US$66.15 million) bond debt of the
Around 79 per cent of bond holders that attended the meeting
yesterday agreed on proposed rescheduling by phases in five
years and cut in bond coupon rate, Mobile-8 secretary Chris
Taufik said.
Mobile-8 does not have to be injected with additional capital if
it manages to chalk up profit before interest, tax, depreciation
and amortization in the first quarter of 2010, Chris added.
Under the agreement the debt maturity date is rolled over from
March 15 in 2012 to March 15 in 2017 and the coupon rates are
cut from 12.375 per cent to 5 per cent in 2009-2011, to 8 per
cent in 2012-2014 but raised to 18 per cent in 2015-2017.
The company also is required to have sinking fund paid on August
31 in 2009 and Sept. 15 in 2009, the newspaper Bisnis Indonesia
Profit Of Indonesia's Bank Jabar Banten Up 76 Per Cent
JAKARTA, June 30 Asia Pulse - The pre-tax profit of Indonesia's
Bank Jabar Banten shot up 76.35 per cent to Rp473.37 billion
(US$47 million) in the first five months of this year from the
same period in 2008.
Agus Ruswendi, the president of the bank, which is owned by the
West Java and Banten provincial administrations, attributed the
increase to 27.87 per cent credit expansion from Rp14.01
trillion to Rp7.92 trillion .
Meanwhile the third party funds held by the bank rose 20.41 per
cent to Rp23.84 trillion in the same period..
Agus said the bank is set to grow to become one of the country's
ten largest banks.
Indonesia Gives State Bank Of India Foreign Exchange Status
JAKARTA, June 30 Asia Pulse - Bank Indonesia has finally granted
the foreign exchange bank license to State Bank of India (SBI)
Indonesia to facilitate trade between the two countries.
SBI Indonesia has to wait for two years to secure the license ,
said Rajive Saran, the president of the Indonesian unit of State
Bank of India.
With the license, the bank could take a significant role in
facilitating the bilateral trade , which is valued at around
US$10 billion a year, Saran said.
Finance director of SBI Indonesia Sathyamurthy said trade
between the two countries have grown fast but payment service is
not yet efficient and takes a long time by payment agent.
Indonesia has continued to chalk up surplus in trade with India
in the past five years.
Indonesia's CMNP Set To Carry Out Antasari-Depok Toll Road
JAKARTA, June 30 Asia Pulse - Indonesia's PT Citra Marga
Nusaphala Persada (JSX:CMNP) said it is set to continue with the
construction of its Depok-Antasari toll road project delayed on
financial problem.
The main problem faced in carrying out the project is the cost
that swelled from Rp2.5 trillion (US$250 million) to around
Rp5.5 trillion, company operational director Hudaya Arryanto
So far only 0.04 per cent of the land has been cleared, Arryanto
said, adding that the price of land has been raised by the
owners when they knew their lands are needed by the project.
CMNP, the government and banks are holding a meeting to discuss
the fate of the 21.55 kilometer toll road project, he said.
Difficulties in land clearing have been the main factor causing
delay in the implementation of toll road project in the country.
Indonesia's Tunas Hopes To Up Export Earning Despite Falling
JAKARTA, June 29 Asia Pulse - Indonesian crude palm oil
producer, PT Tunas Baru Lampung (JSX:TBLA) hopes to earn Rp4
trillion (US$400 million) in sales this year or higher than last
year despite falling price of that commodity.
Last year the company recorded sales valued at Rp3.95 trillion
with net profit at Rp63.34 billion .
Tunas secretary Hardy said the company plans to increase sales
in volume to offset a decline in earning with falling prices.
The company plans to export 320,000 tons of CPO this year or an
increase of 18 per cent from last year's 270,000 tons
Indonesia's Petrochemical Industry Will Suffer Under Afta
JAKARTA, June 30 Asia Pulse - Indonesia's petrochemical industry
may suffer an opportunity loss of up to US$1.5 billion a year
after the implementation of Asean Free Trade Area (AFTA) scheme,
industrialists said.
Under common tariff preferential tariff of AFTA to be effective
as from this year, the import duties on petrochemical products
will be reduced to 0 per cent-5 per cent.
The import duty cut is feared to result in flooding of the
domestic market with imported products of petrochemical, deputy
chairman of the association of plastic and olefin companies Amir
Sambodo said.
Large imports would cause marketing problem for local products
of polyethylene, polypropylene, Amir said.
He said Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand ,three other member of
the regional economic grouping, could afford to offer lower
prices of the plastic basic materials.
He said the three countries have integrated petrochemical
industry that they could easily control their selling prices.
Indonesia Rejects Loans With Commitment Fee: Fin. Minister
JAKARTA, June 30 Asia pulse - Finance Minister Sri Mulyani
Indrawati says Indonesia will not take overseas loans requiring
Indonesia to pay commitment fees.
"Since 2004, Bappenas (National Development Planning Board) has
formulated readiness criteria for project loans to be taken by
Indonesia," Sri Mulyani Indrawati said on Monday, when speaking
at a working meeting with the House of Representatives (DPR)`s
Commission XI to discuss the country`s loan position and fiscal
"Bappenas has applied project preparedness criteria. If the
projects are not ready, we don`t take the loans and won`t go to
the State Budget, so that there is no more commitment fee," she
The government (Bappenas and the finance ministry) had conducted
disciplinary measures in local management, including when
meeting creditors.
"We will not sign a loan agreement unless there is a project
preparation for its implementation, so there will be no longer
commitment fee charge," she said.
Sri Mulyani regretted misunderstandings that past practices in
loan management were continuing now.
"We affirm that the loan management policy has completely
changed since the reform era, with the existence of the laws on
state financial sector."
Thanks to the current loan management system, the government
could no longer take overseas loans as they used to where there
had been no transparency and it had been done outside the State
Budget (APBN).
Indonesia's Inflation Predicted To Hit All-Time Low In June
JAKARTA, June 30 Asia Pulse - Indonesia's inflation is expected
to be less than 1 per cent in the first half of 2009 or an
all-time low for the six-month rate.
Head of the Central Bureau of Statistic Rusman Heriawan said
inflation in June was estimated at 0.46 per cent month-on-month
and 4 per cent year-on-year.
Earlier, the central bank, Bank Indonesia, predicted the
country's inflation was 0.15 per cent month-on-month and 3.8 per
cent year-on-year in June.
Low inflation will give more room for the central bank to cut
its benchmark interest rate (BI Rate) from 7 per cent at present
to 6.75 per cent, analysts said.
The central bank leaders will hold monthly meeting this week
expected to make decision on the BI Rate.
Indonesia, Turkey Agree To Double Trade In Five Years
JAKARTA, June 30 Asia Pulse - Indonesia and Turkey have agreed
to double bilateral trade to US$4.2 billion in the next five
Currently trade between the two countries is valued at around
US$2.1 billion, exceeding the target of US$2 billion set when
the Indonesia-Turkish Business Council was established 10 year
Chairman of the Indonesian chamber of commerce and industry MS
Hidayat said Turkey with a population of 70 million and per
capita income of US$10,000 a year provides a potential market
for Indonesian products.
Hidayat said the country's main export commodities to Turkey are
textiles and garments, pharmaceuticals and capital goods.

SINGAPORE Armed Forces to develop integrated task force against terrorist threats

SINGAPORE Armed Forces to develop integrated task force against terrorist threats
The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) is looking at developing a potent, integrated Special Operations Task Force that will have capabilities to counter terrorist threats from land, sky and sea. This will comprise the SAF’s special operations forces such as the Commandos and Naval Diving Unit.

The chief commando officer will be appointed commander of the Special Operations Task Force, while the commander of the Naval Diving Unit will be the Force’s deputy commander. This is part of the overall priority to build on the third generation Singapore Armed Forces.

Transforming the SAF into a third generation force began in 2004.
A key element in the 3G transformation is homeland security, and that’s where the new special operations command will help the men work together much more cohesively. The SAF will develop special units in the Commandos and diving unit for distinct missions but as you can see, many of these capabilities, have much more integrated missions.

Currently, Singapore’s Defence represents six per cent of the national budget.

Calls on British Government to Suspend Kopassus Training

TAPOL has today called on the British Government to suspend its plan to conduct training for Kopassus, Indonesia's special forces, in view of reports of abuses perpetrated by members of the force in Merauke, province of Papua.

The UK's Joint Counter Terrorist Training and Advisory Team is due to conduct training for members of Kopassus in October this year at the Kopassus training facility in Batujajar, Central Java. The training is taking place following claims that the force which has been responsible for acts of brutality for many years has distanced itself from politics and now respects human rights.

In a letter to Foreign Secretary David Miliband TAPOL calls on the British Government to press Indonesia to investigate the latest information about the behaviour of Kopassus troops in West Papua and to make it clear that such training can only be considered if members found guilty of these abuses are called to account. 'Until such time as Kopassus troops have been called to account, training programmes for members of the force should be suspended.'

Weapons Sales and Corruption

In arms deals involving the French government, the chances of corruption are high French arms sales, kickbacks and murder seem to go hand in hand. In the latest indictment of French use of arms deals not only to win business abroad but fund politicians at home, credible allegations have surfaced that a kickbacks dispute was behind the killing of 11 French shipbuilding engineers in Karachi seven years ago. The engineers and three Pakistanis were the victims of a bomb attack on a bus.
This follows another submarine kickback and murder scandal touching the Malaysian Prime Minister, previously the defense minister, Najib Tun Razak, and a frigate sale to Taiwan which left a Taiwan naval officer dead and a corruption investigation in France which was snuffed out at the highest level.

At the time the Karachi bombing was blamed on al-Qaida, an obvious and easy scapegoat given its record. However French magistrates have now pointed the finger not at al-Qaida but at high-ranking Pakistani officials. They are said to have been retaliating for the stopping of secret commission payments supposedly due to them in connection with a 1994 contract worth about US$1 billion for three submarines. The engineers were working on that contact.

Investigators are now working on the theory that the Pakistanis were supposed to have received kickbacks, part of which would then be repatriated via complex offshore companies to feed political slush funds in France. In this case, the theory goes, the payments were helping to finance the 1995 election campaign of Edouard Balladur, for whom now President Nicolas Sarkozy was campaign manager. But payments to the Pakistanis were stopped by President Jacques Chirac after he defeated Balladur. After years of unsuccessfully trying to get them resumed, the Pakistanis took revenge.

The motive for the bombing, according to these reports, was known to the French secret service which may have retaliated by breaking the legs of two Pakistani admirals and killing a junior officer. The al-Qaida story was just useful cover. Sarkozy says the claim is "ridiculous" but it may not go away. It may also touch Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari, who was then Investment minister in the government of his late wife Benazir Bhutto and may have been involved. The evidence for these allegations is said to come from documents seized in the offices of DCN, the state-owned company building the submarines, by French investigating magistrates and revealed by a lawyer for families of the victims of the bombing.

The scandal comes hard on the heels of that in Malaysia over the killing of Mongolian model and French-speaking translator Altantuya Shaaribuu. She had been the mistress of Malaysian defense analyst Abdul Razak Baginda, a close friend of then Defense Minister Najib. Razak Baginda was acquitted of the murder but two guards working for Najib were found guilty following a bizarrely conducted trial which appeared managed in a way to prevent the admission of sworn statements and protected Najib and his wife from questioning. Although the murder may have seemed related to the sexual relationship between Razak Baginda and a pregnant Altantuya, a more plausible motive may well have been her demands for money given her knowledge of the details of a deal between involving the Malaysian government and Razak Baginda and a French submarine builder. Under this Razak Baginda received a commission of 114 million million euros or about 10 percent of the sale price of three submarines. Whether that money was kick backed to politicians in France is not clear, but it is unlikely that Malaysian politicians did not benefit from this commission.

The Taiwan case, still continuing after 18 years, also related to naval procurement, this time for the 1991 purchase of six Layafayette Class frigates – a deal which was so lucrative for the French that they were willing to jeopardize relations with Beijing to push it through. Two years after it was signed, a the body of Taiwan naval captain, Yin Ching-feng, was found floating off the coast, a victim of foul play. While the affair was long covered up, it gradually emerged that some $600 million in commissions on a $2.8 billion contract had been paid into various Swiss accounts set up by Andrew Wang Chuan-pu, the Taiwan agent for French company Thomson-CSF (now Thales).

Yin is believed to have been killed because he planned to blow the whistle on the deal. Other subsequent unexplained deaths included that of Yin's nephew who was pursuing the case, a French intelligence agent and a Thomson employee in Taiwan.
In Taiwan, convictions against several naval personnel and middlemen were obtained. But in supposedly free and democratic France the government blocked inquiries by judicial officials who were unable to obtain relevant documents. In October 2008 the judge finally ruled that no one could be prosecuted because of lack of evidence.
Thus the case was finally closed on huge payoffs to high ranking French politicians – and on suggestions that some in Beijing had been induced to mute their criticism in return for an improved bank balance. Roland Dumas, who was foreign minister at the time and changed French policy to allow the frigate sales at the urging of a mistress who was being paid by another French company, has implied that he knows where the money went.

Switzerland was, as so often, the conduit for most of the loot but efforts by the Taiwanese to get back money held in Wang-related accounts have so far yielded a paltry 34 million Swiss francs. Other accounts totaling SF900 million remain frozen pending court decisions. Taiwan is still pursuing Thales for $500 million or so repayment of illegal commissions.

The highest levels of the French state have shown they will stand firm against any legal process which attempts to impose honesty in arms dealing, whether or not its own politicians have directly benefited. That makes it unlikely that they will help bring justice in the Altantuya case by opening up their dossier on the visits of Najib Tun Razak, Razak Baginda and Altantuya to Paris and on the final recipients of the commission to Baginda. And it makes it likely that Andrew Wang, charged with murder and corruption in Taiwan, will remain a free man able to roam the world with whatever travel documents the French secret service has been kind enough to provide.
Asia Sentinel
June 29, 2009

More killings in Indonesia's Papua

Police shoot dead one West Papuan, wound three
A resident of Enarotali town in the Papuan regency of Paniai was killed and three others injured Tuesday after officers from the police’s Mobile Brigade opened fire on them.
(“The Papuan” by Kerry B. Collison to be released 2010)

Monday, June 29, 2009

U.S. Lifts Curb on Cambodia, Laos Trade

The removal of Cambodia and Laos from a United States blacklist that limits government support for US companies doing business with the two countries represents the latest strategic move by Washington to counterbalance China's rising influence in mainland Southeast Asia. The new designation will open the way for more American investment in two of Southeast Asia's poorest nations, both US adversaries during the Cold War era.

With the trade restrictions removed, American companies can apply for financing through the Export-Import Bank of the United States for working capital guarantees, export credit insurance and loan guarantees to conduct business in Cambodia and Laos. Only six countries now remain on the US trade blacklist: Cuba, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, Sudan and Syria.

With a combined population of 20 million, Cambodia and Laos do not represent an especially large or high purchasing power market for US companies. US exports to Cambodia in 2008 totaled US$154 million while those to Laos were a mere $18 million.
Cambodia's exports to the US, which mostly consist of clothing and textiles, last year totaled around $2.4 billion while US-bound shipments from Laos were just $42 million. US trade with Thailand stood at $30 billion last year, and with Vietnam $15 billion.

10,000 Boat People on their way to Australia

INDONESIAN authorities are bracing for a huge influx of boat people, anticipating as many as 10,000 asylum-seekers are waiting in Malaysia to transit through the archipelago and on to Australia.

This estimate was backed by a Malaysian group that deals with unauthorised immigrants. An Australian Government source warned of the potential for a similar influx to the thousands who began arriving in Australia from the late 1990s. About 1500 asylum-seekers have arrived in Indonesia this year and registered for refugee status, almost all travelling by boat from Malaysia. Another 1500 are believed to have arrived and have not registered.

Indonesian police intelligence suggests between 7000 and 10,000 more people are waiting in Malaysia to make the journey once their passage is organised by people-smugglers. They comprise a mix of nationalities, not only Afghans. There are also Sri Lankan, Burmese and Iraqis.

BALI UPDATE #668 - 29 June 2009

Never Be Lost in Bali
GPS Satellite Tracking Systems Now Available for Sale or Rent from Balidiscovery.com

In cooperation with Bali Navigator, Bali's leading destination management company www.balidiscovery.com is now able to help keep you on track during your next Bali Holiday.
State-of-the-art Garmin satellite navigators pre-loaded with detailed maps of Bali available for sale or rent means visitors to Bali can now know exactly where they are and where they’re going while traveling around the island.
Pre-programmed with over 12,000 POIs (Points of Interest), the Garmin range of user-friendly GPS will :
- Plot a route to your next destination shown on an easy to read video display supported by voice prompts alerting you turn-by-turn along the way to your destination.
- Let the GPS point out points of interest along your route in Bali.
- Query your GPS to identify the nearest police station, ATM. hospital or gas station.
- Clock your speed and gas consumption as you travel to your next destination.
- Download maps for other worldwide locations for when you return home or explore another corner of the world.
- Convert currency values (not available on all models).
Once you have your GPS, you can download pre-programmed tours of Bali or explore the exiting new world of geocaching - treasure hunting with GPS technology, the very cutting edge in trendy travel.
Rent or Buy
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Garmin Nuvi 255W – Wide Screen - Purchase for US$ 449.50
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Garmin Nuvi 760 – Wide Screen Flagship Model – US$ 599
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- Trip computer records distance, max speed, total time and more.
- Built-in travel kit includes features such as picture viewer, world clock, currency and measurement converters and a calculator.
- SD memory card slot for up to 4GB SD card for additional maps, photos etc.
- Includes Garmin Lock (anti theft) feature,
- Configurable vehicle icons- allows users to select a fun, customized car-shaped icon, users can download additional choices from www.garmin.com/vehicles.
- Offers a three dimensional mapping perspective, or 2D overhead view.
- Built-in lithium-ion battery. Battery life up to 5 hours depending on usage.
- Unit dimensions: (122mm W x 74mm H x 20mm D).
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H1N1 Virus Confirmed in Bali
Swine Flu Cases Confirmed Among Australian Visitors to Bali. One Patient Treated and Now Released from Sanglah General Hospital.

At least four foreign visitors suffering from the H1N1 Virus have been warded briefly at the Denpasar Sanglah General Hospital’s isolation ward.
As reported by various new media, the Head of Medical Services at the hospital, I Gusti Lanang Suartana, confirmed the hospitalization of six foreign nationals, beginning last week with a 22 year-old female resident of Australia, Bobbie Masoner; a 12 year-old Australian boy, George Coltman. And two other adolescent Australians Tayla (14) and James (10).
The Englishwoman and the 12 year-old Australian boy are Bali’s first confirmed H1N1 patients. The remaining two children are awaiting the results of tests that will confirm their condition.
Hospital authorities have now determined that Masoner’s infectious period had passed and released her form hospital on Friday, June 26th.
Bali Health authorities continue to monitor the health of the remaining three patients and people with whom they have had contact in order to see if symptoms of wide contamination develop.
According to NusaBali,, all the confirmed and suspected cases of H1N1 virus infection arrived in Bali on board a Garuda flight from Melbourne, Australia on Friday, June 19th.
The incubation period for the H1N1 Virus is seven days.
Masoner disembarked that flight and went to her private accommodation before seeking medical assistance from a local clinic. Later, she was move to the Sanglah General Hospital on Sunday, June 21st after being treated at a local clinic for several days. Officials are now concerned that Masoner’s condition was not detected by screening procedures in place at Bali’s Ngurah Rai Airport, but sought treatment on her own accord shortly after arriving in Bali.
Masoner is the first person to be confirmed with the H1N1infection in Bali.
Doctors handling the woman’s case told Kompas.com that her medical condition continues to improve.
Nationwide, six Indonesian have now been confirmed with the H1N1 Virus, but with five of the case affecting Indonesians currently abroad (Singapore, China and Australia). There are three confirmed cases involving Indonesian nationals in the capital Jakarta, one an airline pilot now hospitalized after he developed symptoms following several trips abroad.
Worldwide over 55,000 cases of H1N1 have been reported in 102 countries with 238 deaths linked to the illness. Most cases of infection are reported to be mild with 90% of all deaths to date emanating from Mexican patients.
Bali has prepared 54,000 dosages of Tamiflu as part of overall preparations to deal with a larger outbreak of the disease.
No Blood Tests
A spokesperson for the Indonesian Ministry of Health strongly denied reports published in some media that blood tests would soon be required from all foreign tourists arriving in Indonesia.
Chandra Yoga Aditama, of the Ministry’s Director General for Communicable Diseases, said: “I guarantee 100 percent that there are no blood tests for visitors in the airport, and there is no policy at the moment stating that all international visitors will be required to take that test.”

Suicides on the Rise in Bali
In 2008 a Total of 134 Balinese Chose to Escape Life in Paradise by Taking Their Own Lives.

Kompas.com reports that there were 134 suicides in Bali in 2008, an increase of 23% when compared to 2007.
Bali's northern district of Buleleng reported the greatest number of suicides in 2009 with 44 deaths (33%), followed by Karangasem with 25 (19%). Suicide deaths from other Bali districts in 2008 were Jembrana 14 (10%), Bangli 13 (10%), Gianyar 12 (9%), Denpasar 10 (7%), Tambanan 9 (7%), and Badung 5 (4%).
According to a Bali police spokesman, of the 134 cases of self-inflicted death 97 (72%) were men and 37 (28%) were women.
By age group, 56 were between the ages of 46 and 80 years, 50 were between the ages of 26-45 years, 27 were between 16 and 25 years and one death was between 5 and 15 years.
66 (49%) of Bali's suicide victims worked as farmers, 45 (34%) were self-employed, 8 (6%) were laborers, 8 (6%) were students and 7 (5%) were civil servants.
Police estimate that 53% of those who died took their lives due to chronic illness, (42%) due to personal frustration, and 7 (5%) for economic reasons.
The preferred method of self-elimination in Bal was hanging 125 followed by poisoning 5 and slitting of the throat 1.
The police spokesman called on his fellow Balinese to extend compassion and care to their neighbors as the most effective means of reducing Bali's suicide rate.

Peace Park or Pub?
Future of Former Sari Club Site Depends on Ability of Supporters to Consolidate Their Efforts and Raise the Funds to Purchase and Develop Site of 2002 Bali Bombing.

The Australian reports that some Australians are upset with rumored plans to develop the vacant lot that once held the Sari Club into another Kuta entertainment venue. The Sari Club and the adjacent Paddy's were destroyed on October 12, 2002, by a terrorist bomb that claimed 202 lives.
The paper reports that Balinese businessman Kadek Wiranatha has secured a 15 year lease on the land with plans to eventually erect a night spot.
While the necessary permits to build on the site have not been issued, any plans to build on the site would thwart plans by a group of Australians and Indonesians to acquire the lot and erect a Memorial Peace Park.
Kadek denied to The Australian reports he was building a restaurant, bar and club on the Sari Club land. "I have not bought the land," Kadek said. "They (the reports) are not true. I do not have a building permit."
A permanent memorial to the Indonesians and foreigners who died on October 12, 2002 has already been built on Kuta's main street. The memorial stands on "ground zero" and is located about equidistant between the former Paddy's and Sari Club.
The Australian government has called for the development of the site "in a manner appropriate to the memory of the victims of the bombing."
Efforts underway since 2002 by a group of private Australians and Indonesians to acquire the site and erect a peace park costing between AUS$1.5 – 2.5 million have been plagued with problems. Slow efforts to obtain tax-free status for the project and internal dissension within the membership of the voluntary peace park association has left the lot empty and open to eventual commercial development, if the proposed memorial park cannot eventually be funded.
The Australian says that a recent meeting between the Australian Consul-General in Bali, Lex Bartlem, and Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika generated "positive" support from the Balinese government for the proposed peace park.

Bali Airport Declares War on H1N1 Virus
Bali Airport Authorities and Tourism Officials Introduce Steps to Control the Spread of "Swine Flu" Virus in Bali.

Now that Bali has its first confirmed cases of the H1N1 Virus with the confirmation of that illness in the English-born Australian Bobbie Masoner (22) and 12 year-old George Coltman, the island has tightened controls and measures in the hope of curbing a further spread of the disease.
Bali's Ngurah Rai Airport
Angkasa Pura I (PAR I) , the management authority for Bali's airport, has responded to the confirmed case of H1N1 by declaring an all out effort to prevent more undetected cases from entering Bali.
Working together with the Airport Health Office, PAP I will single out planes from countries confirmed to be infected with the H1N1 Virus for special treatment. Upon landing at Bali's airport the subject planes will be sequestered briefly at Bravo 18 - a remote aircraft parking area of the airport where the plane and its passengers will be sprayed with disinfectant. Passengers will then be disembarked and subjected to thermal scanners to determine if any are suffering from an elevated body temperature which, if discovered, would earn a more thorough medical examination by the airport's H1N1 containment team.
Separately, the Chairman of the Bali Tourism Board (BTB), IB Ngurah Wijaya, saluted the open attitude of the government in dealing with the worldwide pandemic represented by H1N1. Explained Wijaya, as quoted in the Bali Post: "Indeed, there's no need to cover this up. What matters is that we explain is that we tell the public how we are handling the illness, as we did before with Bird Flu."
Wijaya also called on members of the travel and hotel industry to take a more proactive role in fighting the H1N1 virus by bringing guests to Denpasar's Sanglah General Hospital whenever symptoms are detected.
Guidelines from Bali Tourism Authority
On June 24, 2009, the Bali Tourism Authority (Diparda) issued a circular memo addressed to all tourism stakeholder suggesting:
• To heighten coordination between clinic operating from hotels and local Health Centers.
• To prepare face masks for Bali visitors.
• Prepare stocks of Tamiflu to treat cases of the H1N1 Virus.
• Guests suspected of being infected with the H1N1 virus should be isolated and reported to the Bali Health Office by calling Dr. Suteja at telephone ++62(0)818550650, Dr. Subrata at telephone ++62(0)0811397568 or the Health Command Post at ++62-(0)361-222412.
Tamiflu supplies are on stand-by at local community health centers and the Sanglah General Hospital.

Purse Snatcher Shot by Police Near Ubud
Ubud Area Police Continue Crackdown on Muggers and Purse Snatchers.

Ubud area police are continuing their crackdown on muggers and purse snatchers who have been targeting tourist visitors. On Wednesday, June 24, 2009, police capture two young men were apprehended in the process of snatching a purse near Ubud. One of the men, 20-year-old Lukman Hakim of Jembrana, Java, was shot by police in the thigh after he reportedly tried to evade capture.
Police authorities told NusaBali that Lukman heads a group of teen-age thieves who operated from his rented accommodation in Sembuang in Gianyar targeting tourists in Ubud, Sukawati and Tegallalang.
Police continue to seek at least one more youth, believed to be part of Lukman's den of thieves.
The most recent arrest follows the capture of another man on June 6th near the center of Ubud. [See: Ubud Police Arrest Purse Snatcher]

Kuta's Bitter Cup
Bali Authorities Call on Waterbom Park to Reduce Groundwater Use to Help Remedy Increasing Salinity of Local Water Supply.

BisnisBali reports that Bali's Zoning Authority (Dinas Cipta Karya-DCK) have asked Bali's Waterbom Park to reduce their use of ground water following complaints from surrounding residents of increased salinity in their water supply. The DCK have said that if the salinity problems persist they will be forced to shut off water supplies to the popular water park.
Access to ground water is, according to regulation, strictly controlled with special licenses required to sink water wells. The DCK has issued only 255 ground water permits in Kuta.
A spokesman for the DCK, Putu Wiarka, told the press that salinity in Kuta's ground water is generally a problem, particularly during the dry season when salt concentrations increase in the absence of regular rainfall.
The Badung Environmental Agency (BLH), has responded to the situation claiming that ground water sources in Kuta have been over exploited.
NusaBali reports that Waterbom is licensed to tap into local ground water supplies to a maximum level of 2,592 cubic meters each month.
According to NusaBali, the DCK claims the water park has used twice the authorized amount of ground water over the past several months. The DCK has also revealed seeming anomalies in tests conducted on local ground water by Waterbom and the government. Electrical conductivity tests results (used to measure salinity) reported by Waterbom regarding of its two ground water sources on March 4, 2009, showed 750 mhos/cm and 680 mhos/cm, respectively. Tests conducted at the same water sources by DCK on June 23, 2009, obtained results of 2,791 mhos/cm and 2,369 mhos/cm - demonstrating a high level of salinity.
The Head of the Mining and Energy Division of DCK, Putu Wiarka, has dismissed the wide variance in the two tests as attributable to the 3-plus months between the two tests. Wiarka told NusaBali that such a change in results could not occur over the course of just a few months and must represent an error in the March report submitted by Waterbom.
The DCK has now directed Waterbom to change the laboratory used to analyze ground water samples while reducing the amount of ground water used by the park.
Waterbom Responds
Quoted in NusaBali, the Chief Financial Officer of Waterbom, Nyoman Suteja, has denied that the park violated limits on maximum amounts of ground water used, insisting that only 100-125 cubic meters of ground water were used each day.
The park's extensive collection of pools contain some 1.5 million cubic meters of water, most of which is continually treated and recycled by the park.
Suteja views as unfair the disproportionate amount of focus being placed on Waterbom in the current situation, calling on authorities to check on all legal and illegal ground wells in use in the Kuta area. The Park also pointed to the failure of the government to make city water available to the very heavily populated area of Kuta as the real underlying cause for any overuse of ground water.
The General Manager of Waterbom, Maman Lingga, told NusaBali that the Park has not received complaints regarding water quality from surrounding residents and community officials.

Bali Artistic Leader Calls for a Stop on Condotels
Nyoman Gunarsa Says Condotels Threaten Balinese Culture.

One of Bali's most famous artists and art curators, Nyoman Gunarsa, views the recent surge of "Condominium Hotels (Condotels)" as a detriment that does more harm than good for Bali.
According to Gunarsa quoted in Denpost, tourist staying in fully equipped apartments will adopt a lifestyle of a local, providing minimum economic benefit to Bali. Moreover, Gunarsa sees Condotels as reflecting a highly individualist western lifestyle that distances residents from the local environment, local culture and the community-based culture of the Balinese.
Gunarsa also expressed fears that an element of positive social control will be lost on the large number of Condotels, creating an environment conducive to the excesses of modern life, such as free-sex and the use of narcotics.
Because of these concerns, Gunarsa is calling on the government to limit the use of Condotels in Bali and to stop the construction of new Condotel projects.
Gunarsa told the press of a basic conflict between Bali's artistic community dedicated to preserving and protecting Balinese culture and other parties in Bali only seeking to profits from the exploitation of the island.
Underling the depth of his concerns, Gunarsa cynically said that if the government has no desire to stop the construction of Condotels in Bali it would be better if all restrictions were simply lifted and Bali quit any claims of being the "islands of the Gods." Continuing angrily, Gunarsa said that if everything is allowed to develop without control, Bali will eventually be destroyed by condominiums, apartments and similar developments.
The well-known artists bemoaned the fact that Bali's farmers are selling rice fields, agricultural lands and river fronts that are supplanted with modern buildings. Adding: "If everything happens in this way, we will no longer need to host the Bali Arts Festival every year to present our stage performances and other arts. All our idealism becomes pointless."

Indonesia's National Tourism Targets Too Ambitious?
Despite Evidence to the Contrary, ASITA Chairman Ben Sukma Thinks Elections Will Keep Tourists Away.

The Chairman of the Indonesian Association of Travel Agents (ASITA), Ben Sukma, has expressed pessimism that the national target of 6.7 million foreign visitors for all of Indonesia in 2009 won't be achieved.
Quoted in Bali Post, Sukma said: "Anywhere in the world where there is a national election, tourism visitors automatically avoid that destination out of fear of possible conflict. So how can we achieve this target?"
Ben defended his pessimistic view by pointing to arrivals in 2008 when Indonesia's situation was calm and peaceful and was supported by the "Visit Indonesian Year 2008." In that relatively conducive situation, Indonesia achieved only 6.23 million foreign tourists who spent an estimated US$7.5 billion dollars. In that year, Indonesia's tourism arrivals fell short of the targeted 7 million set by the government, but did manage to improve over 2007 when 5.51 million foreign visitors came to the country.
The possibility that the Presidential elections set for July 8th will extend to a second run-off round of voting only serves to increase Sukma's trepidation in the face of the 6.7 million visitor target for 2009. "With these conditions and with observers suggesting that the presidential elections will go to a second round, this must certainly make foreign tourists reconsider an Indonesian holiday for security reasons," explained Sukma.
Sukma said that the government and tourism industry leaders should better use the current period to repair and upgrade the national infrastructure that supports tourism.
In seeming contradiction to Sukma's pessimistic outlook, Bali hotels are reporting high occupancies with record number of visitors coming to the island.

Bali: a Suspended Island?
The Highs and Lows of Bali's Annual Kite Flying Season.

Visitors to Bali during the months of June-August each year could be forgiven for thinking Bali is an island suspended on strings descending from the heavens above. A look skyward during these months in any direction will usually reveal hundreds of kites, some the size of a large trucks, supporting colorful tails flapping in the wind. And, while legions of small boys can be found everywhere playing with their kites, kite flying in Bali is hardly child's play. Almost every banjar in Bali has its dedicated team of young men who build and enter kites competitions to win prizes and bring honor to their village.
Some Words of Caution
High-flying kites in Bali are not without a downside:
- Those with eyes turned skyward admiring the island's annual high-flying spectacle should be cautioned to keep their eyes on the road in order to avoid becoming yet another statistic to the many who are injured or disfigured each year by hard-to-see kite strings stretched across local roads.
- Local pilots operating around Bali know to keep their eyes peeled for high flying kites suspended near Bali's airport, despite rules outlawing such kite-flying activity. The threat to aviation increases somewhat during night time flights when many large kites are left unsupervised flying overnight, tied to the earth by wires held by heavy spikes driven into the earth.
- Candles and flashlights should be stocked during Bali's kite-flying season in anticipation of power outages caused by kite wires that short-circuit high power lines in Bali.
- It's also a good idea to be on the look out for kites, both small and very large, that have momentarily "slipped the surly bonds of earth" and are suddenly crashing back uncontrolled to earth. In such scenarios, horrendous collisions with vehicles or cardiac arrest among drivers who find themselves face to face with a road-sized kite are common results.
Despite these cautionary notes, visitors to Bali during the month of Bali should monitor local media and attend the annual kite festival held on at Padang Galak field on Sanur Beach.
Related Article
[The Killer Kites of Bali]
[Kites and Helicopters Don't Mix in Bali]
[See: Yikes! Watch Out for Kites]
[Bali Suffers an Island-Wide Power Outage]
[An Island With Strings Attached]

Luke McKenzie Wins 3rd MRA Bali International Triathlon
Hundreds of Athletes and Spectators Enjoy Glorious Morning on Jimbaran Beach.

Over 326 athletes from 26 countries swam, cycled and ran in Bali on Sunday, June 28, 2009, in the 3rd MRA Bali International Triathlon.
Returning to once again claim first place honors was professional triathlete Luke McKenzie who managed to cover the 1.5 km swim, 750 meter beach run, 40 km bike ride through the hills of the Ungasan peninsula and a 10 km run though the village of Jimbaran in on 2:10:15. The man who spends his professional life participating in and winning triathlons, continued to laud Bali as his favorite destination Luke’s appearance at this year’s event together with that of fellow athlete Amanda Balding was made possible through he support of Garuda Indonesia.
In the individual triathlete division, second to Luke’s first was claimed by Swede Fredrick Nus Cruneberg who clocked across the finish line at 2:13:57 followed in third place by Australian Kyle James Gear with a time of 2:23:15.
The top Indonesian time was turned in by Kadri Regar who placed 8th with a time of 2:29:31.
The top time turned in by a female individual triathlete was 2:36.39 recorded by Michele Ann Hailey, who placed 14th overall.
Winning a special cash prize prepared by the Bali Hotel Association, the best 3-member team was from the Kartika Plaza Hotel who covered the entire race in 2:28:43 followed in second-place by the Bali Trail Blazers Team at 2:26:43
Held simultaneously with the main-event was a 5 km fun run won by Indonesian Albert Trai Kumlasi with a time of 15:59, followed by Ketut Darma Tutme (16:58) and Kristianus Ore Roto (17:43).
The race got underway just before 7:00 a.m. as a contingent of Bali Life Savers (Balawista) departed the shore en masse for the swim start signaled by the Regent of Badung Anak Agung Gde Agung.
As the racers covered the south Bali course, a lively party got underway at the Four Seasons Resort’s Coconut Grover with live music by local band Ardo and Delights, games, live radio broadcasts by Hard Rock Radio, food, drink and a local bazaar. Hundred of athletes and spectators spent a memorable morning watching the race from the Four Season’s Coconut Grove and the transition area at the Intercontinental Resort Bali.
[Link for Complete Race Results]

Grudging Compliance with the Rules?
Best Western Halts Demolition of its Top Floor. Community Leaders Call for Compliance with Both Height and Setback Rules.

DenPost reports that the demolition of the top balcony of the 188-room Best Western Hotel in the Kedonganan area suddenly came to a halt on Tuesday, June 23, calling into question pledges by the developer to bring the hotel into conformance with the 15 meter maximum height rule for buildings in Bali. DenPost said that some of the offending pillars located on the top of the building remain partially intact, giving rise in some quarter to suspect that the removal of the offending balcony was more symbolic than real.
A local community leader in Kedonganan, I Gede Rai Wijaya, adopted a more positive outlook, expressing appreciation for the readiness of the hotel’s investors to submit themselves to the local laws governing the maximum height of buildings in Bali. At the same time, however, he asked if the Best Western will also be taking action to correct its violation of set-back rules committed in building to close the street.
The Head of the Badung enforcement agency (Satpol PP), Wayan Adi Arnawa, confirmed that his office had obtained assurances from the Best Western that alterations would be made to remove those parts of the building standing too close to the roadway. Arnawa was told by the owners

Minister of Tourism: Be Transparent in Dealing with H1N1 Virus
Truth and Openness is the Best Way to Deal with a Global Epidemic.

When it comes to the H1N1 virus the Ministry of Culture and Tourism is urging openness and transparency in dealing with worldwide epidemic. Meanwhile, many within the tourism sector are urging moderation from the press in its coverage of the potential threat to public health.
According to Radar Bali, both sides to the debate have their individual reasons for their respective views. Tourism operators within the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI) claim news stories on H1N1 have the potential of reducing tourist arrivals to Bali. In seeming contradiction, the Ministry responsible for tourism is calling on the provincial government and related agencies to not cover up details regarding “swine flu.”
Speaking in Bali at a meeting of the Bali Chapter of the , the head of development of human resources for the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, I gust Putu Laksaguna, was adamant in his view hat foreign visitors need clear information. He cautioned provincial governments not to conceal the problem of “swine flu” saying: “If there are foreigners suffering from ‘swine flu,’ then report that fact. Don’t cover up this sort of information, tell it like it is.”
Laksaguna believes that by providing truthful explanations, Indonesia will gain both the sympathy and the trust, also accepting as truthful reports on the various preventative steps being taken to prevent the spread of the disease. On a practical level, the tourism official pointed out that efforts at deception would prove futile as infected tourists told their story to the outside world.
Will such truthfulness cause tourism arrivals to decline? Laksaguna feels that any downturn will be insignificant if the hotel and travel industry communicate openly with tourists. “For instance, if a tourist wants to cut short his stay because of swine flu, the hotel must be able to describe how those being infected with the disease are not catching the disease in Bali. They must also be told of the many steps being taken to control the disease’s spread, ”he explained.
In response, the Chairman of the Bali Chapter of PHRI, Tjokorda Oka Artha Sukawati, admitted that hotel operation in Bali were concerned with the implications of the ‘swine flu’ epidemic. He asked for all involved not to panic and to continue to carry on life as usual and supporting steps to prevent the spread of H1N1.<.i>
Registering a differing view from that held by Laksaguna, Tjokorda said he hoped the media would not sensationalize the news on ‘swine fly.’ Tjokora said: “If you’re going report (on ‘swine flu’), then report the news in a proportional way and the steps being taken to keep it under control; don’t blow-up’ the news on ‘swine flu.’

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Vietnam’s General Vo Nguyen Giap forces Government to Listen

Vietnam’s great war hero, Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap, has stood up to defend his country once again, this time against what he says would be a huge mistake by the government — a vast mining operation run by a Chinese company.

Now 97, the commander who led his country to victory over both France and the United States has emerged as the most prominent voice in a broad popular protest that is challenging the secretive workings of the country’s Communist leaders.

In an unusual step, the government has taken note of the criticisms in recent weeks and appears to be making at least gestures of response, saying it will review the project’s environmental impact and slow its full implementation.

The project, approved by the Communist Party’s decision-making Politburo in late 2007, calls for an investment of $15 billion by 2025 to exploit reserves of bauxite — the key mineral in making aluminum — that by some estimates are the third largest in the world.

The state-owned Chinese mining group Chinalco has already put workers and equipment to work in the remote Central Highlands under contract to Vinacomin, the Vietnamese mining consortium that is aiming for up to 6.6 million tons of aluminum production by 2015.

The controversy draws together several issues in today’s Vietnam — its emulation of China’s environmentally destructive model of industrial development, a tentatively evolving relationship between the closed government system and its citizens, and a visceral distrust among many Vietnamese of their big neighbor to the north.
Apart from environmentalism and economics, the theme that runs through the blogs and public opinion on the street is a deep-rooted fear of China. Vietnam was a tributary state of China for 1,000 years and was invaded by China in 1979, and the two countries continue to joust for sovereignty in the South China Sea.
Excerpt from NY Times

Philippine militants kill 7 policemen, 2 soldiers

Suspected al-Qaida-linked militants killed seven policemen in an ambush Sunday after their comrades shot to death two government soldiers in a separate attack in
the southern Philippines.

In a separate attack late Saturday, another group of suspected Abu Sayyaf gunmen killed two unarmed soldiers involved in the construction of a school in nearby Tipo Tipo township, also in Basilan.

The Abu Sayyaf, which has about 400 fighters, is listed by the U.S. as a terrorist organization because of its al-Qaida links and its perpetration of terrorist attacks, including against Americans. Since 2002, American troops have helped provide weapons, combat training and intelligence to Filipino soldiers battling the Abu Sayyaf. U.S. officials hailed Basilan as a model after U.S.-backed offensives against the group fostered a period of relative calm in the province of more than 300,000 people.

But the militants and their allies have turned to kidnappings in Basilan, about 550 miles (880 kilometers) south of Manila, and outlying provinces to make money. This has raised concerns among Philippine and U.S. security officials that ransom payments could revive the group.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Aussie Spy Data Points to Papua Murder Cover-Up

NEW details of secret Australian surveillance of Indonesia's Papua province have emerged, revealing that Australian officials believed Indonesian military weapons were used in the murder of two US citizens. Documents show the officials told US diplomats within hours of the 2002 shooting that automatic Steyr rifles were used.
The US State Department documents show the Australians passed on the information on August 31, 2002 — the day the two US school teachers and an Indonesian colleague were shot dead. They were ambushed on an isolated road near the giant US-owned Freeport-McMoRan gold and copper mine, where the three worked.

The heavily censored documents were obtained under freedom of information by US researchers, who say they show Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono stalled US efforts to allow the FBI to investigate the killings. Pro-independence guerillas were blamed, but human rights groups have long accused the Indonesian military of involvement — a suspicion initially shared by Indonesian police.

The US documents provide the latest insight into Australia's close knowledge of events surrounding the shootings. Two months after the ambush, Australian spy agencies were reported to have given the US intelligence relating to a planned military attack on the Freeport mine, designed to discredit the pro-independence Free Papua Movement (OPM).

And last year, The Sunday Age revealed Australian government officials imposed extraordinary secrecy when eight wounded survivors of the ambush were flown to Townsville Hospital. The newly obtained documents are further evidence of a cover-up
surrounding the ambush, says Eben Kirskey of the University of California who has researched the killings.

The documents include a cable written on the day of the ambush by the US embassy in Jakarta and sent to the State Department in Washington and US embassy in Canberra.
It reveals officials at the mine were reluctant to blame OPM guerillas for attacking the teachers, who were "specifically and deliberately targeted".

The cable continues: "There are reports from Australian sources close to provincial police that the automatic weapons used in the attack were manufactured by Steyr, a weapon not typically used by the OPM in the past, though (it) is a common make in Indonesian security force inventories in the province."

Indonesian police ballistics experts later identified three types of military weapons used in the shooting, including M16s, which fire the same cartridge as the Steyr.

The embassy cable posed three possible explanations for the attack: the OPM had abandoned its practice of not targeting foreigners; the attack was carried out by "some rogue security force"; or it was a terrorist attack — an option the cable ruled out. Documents obtained by Dr Kirskey and Indonesian journalist Andreas Harsono last year revealed the extent of Australian secrecy when the survivors of the attack arrived in Townsville the next day.

The survivors were barred from calling relatives for almost two days and from talking about the identity of their attackers. Australian police imposed extraordinary security on the hospital, while US diplomats took the unusual step of asking an Australian military officer to check on the condition of the patients. Separate inquiries published by The Sunday Age last September disclosed unidentified government officials effectively took charge of non-medical operations at the hospital, under a directive issued at "high government level".

Two months after the shooting, The Washington Post reported that US officials had obtained information showing Indonesian military officers had discussed an operation against Freeport before the ambush, aimed at discrediting the OPM so the US would
declare it a terrorist organisation.

The information included details of a conversation secretly intercepted by an Australian agency — likely to be the top-secret Defence Signals Directorate, which monitors mobile phone, radio and internet messages.

The new documents show President Yudhoyono stalled in the face of US pressure to allow the FBI to investigate the killings, which Indonesian police initially blamed on the military.

In 2006, seven men were sentenced over the killings, including alleged ringleader Antonius Wamang, who received a life term.
by Tom Hyland
The Age (Melbourne)
Sunday, June 28, 2009

Burma (Myanmar) Presses Rebels in Bid to Eliminate Armed Opposition

A four-week military offensive in eastern Burma (Myanmar) has pushed back ethnic Karen rebels and forced thousands of refugees to flee across the border into Thailand. The attacks appear to underscore the determination of Burma's regime to snuff out what little armed opposition remains to its rule ahead of elections next year.
Burma is already in the international spotlight over its treatment of detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is on trial for breaking the terms of her house arrest after an American man swam across a lake to visit her against her will.

The trial is due to resume on July 3.

Burma is also the presumed customer for the cargo aboard a North Korean ship that the US Navy is currently tailing. Burmese state media reported Thursday that authorities had no information on the vessel. In recent months, Burma's junta has begun pressuring ethnic insurgent groups with which it has previously signed cease-fire agreements to put their fighters under military command as border guards. Most are expected to contest the elections, showing a willingness to participate in the process. But they have been reluctant to disarm after decades of strife with a military that is dominated by the ethnic Burman majority.

The largest group that has signed a cease-fire, the United Wa State Army (UWSA), has already rejected the regime's proposal. The UWSA has around 20,000 fighters and is accused of involvement with drug trafficking in northern Burma, which is second only to Afghanistan in opium production.

The Karen National Union (KNU) is among a handful of groups in Burma that haven't signed cease-fire agreements with the regime. Its armed wing, the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), has been fighting for six decades after Britain, the former colonial power, failed to deliver on a promise of self-rule for Karen people, who are estimated to number around seven million.

Burmese military offensives against the rebels normally intensify during the dry season. But, in a change of tactics, the current onslaught comes during monsoon rains that slow the advance of troops.

Since early June, Burmese troops, supported by a breakaway Karen militia, have forced the KNLA to abandon several bases along the border with Thailand. This has disrupted supply routes and raised fears of a wider collapse in its defenses that may trigger a larger refugee outflow.

More than 4,500 villagers have crossed the border to escape the fighting and out of fear of being abused by soldiers.Karen leaders are talking to Thai authorities and the UN's refugee agency about what do next. More than 140,000 mostly Karen refugees already live in camps along the border.

Hobbled by infighting, the KNLA appears to be on the ropes, outgunned and outnumbered. Supporters say that combatants organized into conventional military units may eventually return to guerrilla warfare, as it becomes harder to hold territory. Political leaders could also sue for peace, though that would open more fissures in the movement.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Business & Trade updates from Jakarta

- Jasa Marga Expects '09 Net Pft To Grow More Than 10% -Director
- Singapore Investors Eyeing Bank Eksekutif Indonesia
- Indonesia's c.bank reverse repo auction results
- Indonesia's Ratu Prabu Earmarks $150 Mln For Capital Spending
- Indonesia's Maspion Won't Resort To Mass Layoffs: President
- Capacity Utilization Of Indonesia's Steel Industry Lowest In 3 Years
- Indonesia state firm sells 6,410 T sugar, price down
- China Habour To Take Part In Jakarta Airport Railway Project
- China's Geely To Invest $30 Mln In Indonesian Car Market
- Indonesia's Sales Of Car Tires Pick Up In May
- Indonesia Air Asia To Scrap Domestic Service For Regional Routes
- EU's Certificate Policy Not To Decrease Indonesian Fishery Exports
- EU Denies Slapping Higher Tariff Barrier On Indonesian CPO
- Indonesian Palm Oil Industrial Cluster Project To Be Build In Dumai
(Courtesy Joyo News Service)

Jasa Marga Expects '09 Net Pft To Grow More Than 10% -Director
JAKARTA, June 25 (Dow Jones)--Toll road operator and builder PT
Jasa Marga (JSMR.JK) expects 2009 net profit to grow by more
than 10% due to an increase in revenue, its finance director
told reporters Wednesday.
"2009 revenue is expected to exceed IDR3.7 trillion ($356
million), from IDR3.35 trillion a year earlier. This could
support us having our net profit for 2009 expand by more than
10%," Reynaldi Firmansjah said.
State-owned Jasa Marga, the nation's largest toll road company
by assets and revenue, had net profit last year of IDR707
Singapore Investors Eyeing Bank Eksekutif Indonesia
JAKARTA, June 24 Asia Pulse - An investor from Singapore agreed
to acquire PT Bank Eksekutif Indonesia, a report said confirmed
by the bank President Tonny Antonius.
The unnamed investor already signed a memorandum of
understanding early this month, the newspaper Bisnis Indonesia
The report quoting an official of Bank Indonesia said the
acquisition plan had been reported to the central bank.
Antonius said the process of acquisition is in progress and a
due diligence study will be held before negotiations on prices
The bank owners would agree even if the strategic investors will
take the majority shares, he told the paper.
Indonesia's c.bank reverse repo auction results
JAKARTA, June 25 (Reuters) - Indonesia's central bank absorbed
300 billion rupiah ($29.27 million), below its target of 1
trillion rupiah, through a 21-day reverse-repo auction on
The central bank, Bank Indonesia, also held a 63-day reverse
repo auction, but it received no bids.
Bank Indonesia conducted the auctions, through which it absorbed
excess cash from commercial banks, by selling series of treasury
bills SPN20100114, SPN20100218, SPN20100311, SPN20100415,
SPN20100513 and SPN20100610.
It also sold fixed rate bonds FR0010 , FR0019
, FR0020 , FR0023 , FR0026
, FR0027 , FR0028 , FR0040
, FR0042 , FR0043 , and FR0044
In the previous reverse-repo auction on June 18, the central
bank received a total of 280 billion rupiah for its 21-day
reverse repo, but had no winning bids because the rate was
Bank Indonesia held 25.93 trillion rupiah worth of tradable
rupiah government bonds as of June 23, down from 28.30 trillion
rupiah at the end of May, finance ministry data showed.
Followings are details of the auction:
Total incoming bids : 300 billion rupiah Amount absorbed : 300
billion rupiah Bid rate range (pct) : 6.90-6.93 SOR (stop out
rate) : 6.93 Weighted average rate (pct): 6.92 Settlement date :
June 26 Maturity date : July 17 Frequency of incoming bids : 2
($1 = 10,250 rupiah) (Reporting by Sonya Angraini; Editing by Ed
Indonesia's Ratu Prabu Earmarks $150 Mln For Capital Spending
JAKARTA, June 24 Asia Pulse - Indonesia's PT Ratu Prabu Energy
said it will set aside US$150 million to acquire a number of oil
and gas fields and to finance expansion in property business.
The company will issue bonds and launch rights issue if internal
cash and bank loans are not enough, its finance director
Gemilang Zaharin said.
Gemilang said the company hopes to secure US$50 million in bank
He said the bond might be issued this year and rights issue not
later than the first quarter of next year.
Part of the fund will be used to buy two units of drilling rigs
and to expand gas production capacity, the newspaper Investor
Daily said.
Indonesia's Maspion Won't Resort To Mass Layoffs: President
SURABAYA, East Java, June 24 Asia pulse - President director of
Indonesia's Maspion Group, Alim Markus, said his corporation
would not resort to mass worker layoffs although the global
financial crisis had caused some of its subsidiaries to suffer
heavy losses.
"Economic conditions have deteriorated but I can assure the
public there will be no mass layoffs at Maspion," Markus said
here on Wednesday.
The company had to take efficiency measures but they did not
affect its workers` status. "We continue pursuing efficiency but
it does not include layoffs," Markus said.
Maspion Group which comprises a number of companies engaged in
production of electronic household goods, employs a work force
of about 20,000.
In addition to the global financial crisis, Maspion Group was
also facing another financial burden relating to an increase of
the district minimum wages (UMK) in East Java in 2009 of 17 per
cent at the average, he said.
The Surabaya`s Industrial Relations Court (PHI) rejected a civil
law suit posted by Alim Markus as chairman of the Indonesian
Employers Association (APINDO) of East Java area regarding the
East Java provincial Governor`s decree on the implementation of
the UMK.
"We still adhere to such decision, whatever the risk we are
facing," he said.
In 2008, a Maspion subsidiary, PT Alumindo Light Metal Industry
(ALMI), Tbk. suffered financial losses amounting Rp92 billion.
"The losses happened due to the decreasing value of the rupiah
as the impact of global economic crisis in 2008," ALMI Executive
Director, Alim Satria said.
The losses reduced the ALMI`s net profit from Rp32 billion to
Rp5 billion in 2007, Satria cited.
Global economic crisis has also led to a decrease in quantity of
the company`s sales, starting from fourth quarter of 2008 to
first quarter of 2009.
"The decline occurred mainly in the export market, particularly
the United States, as the main export market of the company," he
In the year 2008, some 62 per cent of the quantity of the
company`s sales come from exports to foreign countries, so that
the global crisis has seriously hit ALMI which produces
aluminium sheets, he added.
Capacity Utilization Of Indonesia's Steel Industry Lowest In 3
JAKARTA, June 24 Asia Pulse - Indonesia's steel industry is
estimated to operate only at 40-50 per cent of its capacity in
the first half of this year or the lowest in the past three
Based on data at the Indonesia Association of Iron and Steel
Industry a decline in capacity utilization was recorded in all
sectors of the industry .
The billet producers are estimated to produce only 1.34 million
tons or 38.2 per cent of their total capacity and concrete
reinforcing steel producers are expected to turn out only
929,196 tons or 31.8 per cent of their capacity in the first
half of he year.
Deputy chairman of the association Irvan Kamal said the
country's steel industry could not increase production on weak
demand .
Meanwhile it was reported that the prices of steel sank to the
lowest level in the past 12 months.
The prices of hot rolled coils plunged 64.88 per cent in May
from July's peak of US$1,125 per ton.
Indonesia state firm sells 6,410 T sugar, price down
JAKARTA, June 25 (Reuters) - Indonesian state plantation firm PT
Perkebunan Nusantara XI has sold 6,410 tonnes of white sugar in
an auction at a top farm gate price of 6,925 rupiah per kg, a
company official said on Thursday.
The price was down nearly 6 percent from the top price at
previous week's auction of 7,353 rupiah per kg, mainly because
crushing has gained pace, said Adig Suwandi, corporate secretary
of the state firm.
"Prices have started to fall and may continue to ease in coming
weeks as more stocks are released into the market," Suwandi told
The winning bidder at this week's auction was from CV Sumber
Hidup, a Jakarta-based trading firm.
Distributors normally charge up to 1,000 rupiah per kg as a
margin to consumers.
State plantations normally crush sugar cane from their own
plantations and from farmers. But since last November they have
only been able to sell sugar from farmers, while sugar from
their own plantations must be distributed by state procurement
agency Bulog as a single selling agent.
Indonesia was traditionally one of Asia's biggest buyers of the
sweetener, but is scaling back imports of white sugar for
household consumption since domestic output is exceeding
Southeast Asia's biggest economy, however, still relies on
imported raw sugar to produce high quality refined sugar used by
food and beverage industry. (Reporting by Aloysius Bhui; Editing
by Ed Davies)
China Habour To Take Part In Jakarta Airport Railway Project
JAKARTA, June 25 Asia Pulse - China Harbour wants to take part
in a tender to build an railway project to link Jakarta's
Soekarno Hatta airport with railway stations in the city center.
Tenders held twice previously failed for lack of investors
showing interest in the long delayed project that will
facilitate transport to Indonesia's largest airport.
China Harbour would join other previous bidders Mitsui and
Railink in the third tender, Nugroho Indrio, the secretary of
the railway directorate general said.
The Chinese company had already submitted tender documents and
the tender result would be announced early July, Nugroho said.
Earlier, Transport Minister Jusman S Djamal said if plans to
hold the next tender failed, such as for lack of bidders, the
government would take over the jobs.
There were few investors interested in building the 17.3
kilometer railway project to cost around Rp1.5 trillion (US$136
million), Jusman said.
He said a number of investors such as Alstom from France, and
Mitsui & Co. (TSE:8031) from Japan had taken part in
prequalification tenders, however, after the selections, only
one of the bidders proceeded with the process to submit proposal
for the final tender.
China's Geely To Invest $30 Mln In Indonesian Car Market
JAKARTA, June 25 Asia Pulse - Chinese principal Geely Holdings
Group said it will invest US$30 million to establish
distribution and marketing networks for its Geely cars in
Geely Holdings said through its Indonesian units PT Geely Mobil
Indonesia it hopes to grab a substantial share of car market in
the country.
Richard Yang, a director of Geely Holdings, said Indonesia is
the potential starting point to enter car market in southeast
He said this year, Geely will assemble 400 units of cars at PT
Gaya Motor and 125 of the units will be exported to China for
the principal, and the rest are to be disposed of on the
domestic market.
Next year, Geely hopes to increase production to 1,000 units to
be exported to Brunei, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand, he
was quoted as saying by the newspaper Investor Daily.
Indonesia's Sales Of Car Tires Pick Up In May
JAKARTA, June 25 Asia Pulse - Indonesia's sales of car tires
began to pick up reaching 3.28 million units in May, or the
largest so far this year.
Growing demand in exports market was the largest contribution to
the increase in sales, the association of tire makers said.
Exports surged 16.3 per cent to 2.33 million units from 2
million units in April, association chairman Aziz Pane said.
The sales in May rose 12.7 per cent from the previous month's
2.91 million units but fell 25 per cent from the same month in
Pane said the trend is encouraging, adding sales grew to both
car makers to be used as original equipment and to retailers for
Indonesia Air Asia To Scrap Domestic Service For Regional Routes
JAKARTA, June 25 Asia Pulse - Indonesia Air Asia has decided to
scrap services on a number of domestic routes in favor of
regional routes.
The airline already decided to stop service on domestic routes
including Jakarta-Batam, Jakarta-Padang, Jakarta -Makasar and
Jakarta-Balikpapan and increase flight frequency in regional
The airline was forced to restructure its routes on limited seat
capacity, its President Dharmadi said.
Indonesia Air Asia, which has a fleet of 14 aircraft, plans to
half its services for domestic routes normally account for 40
per cent of its total flight service to 20 per cent, Dharmadi
Regional services are more promising with fairly high load
factors, he was quoted as saying by the newspaper Bisnis
EU's Certificate Policy Not To Decrease Indonesian Fishery
JAKARTA, June 25 Asia Pulse - The Indonesian government believes
the country's fishery exports to the European Union will not
drop due to the EU's policy requiring those exports to be
covered by certificates.
"I am optimistic we are prepared. So our exports to EU will not
drop," the director general of processing and marketing of
fishery products of the ministry of fishery and marine
resources, Martani Huseini, said here on Wednesday.
The country`s total fishery exports in 2008 reached US$2.6
billion a year and 30 per cent of them went to EU.
"So far exports to Japan remain the biggest reaching 35 to 45
per cent of total exports a year," he said.
He said however that exports to EU were important because their
value was higher than the value of exports to other countries.
"The EU is the best in terms of price compared to other
countries and is not too demanding," Martani said.
He said right now there were 27 new rich countries in the
Europen Union and they had bigger capacity to buy premium
fishery products than the US.
He said the EU was now also friendlier to fishery products from
Indonesia proven by the fact that it had never rejected products
from the country so far.
"What has become a problem now is shortage in our supply. This
has happened because catch is dwindling while breeding is
minimum," he said.
Regarding the EU requirements Martani said the problem faced by
the country`s fishermen was that they were not used to making
"Only big ships conduct recording in log books but small
fishermen never does that. This is what has to be familiarized,"
he said.
EU Denies Slapping Higher Tariff Barrier On Indonesian CPO
JAKARTA, June 25 Asia Pulse - The European Union (EU) denies
reports that it has restricted imports of crude palm oil (CPO)
from Indonesia.
The import duty on CPO has not changed and is the same on all
CPO regardless of the way it was produced, EU's chief delegate
to Indonesia Julian Wilson said.
Reports quoting officials in the country have said the EU had
slapped restriction on CPO from Indonesia for allegedly
destroying tropical forests to provide land for new palm
Indonesia, the world's largest CPO producer, will continue to
enjoy full access for its CPO to the EU market without tariff
barrier, Wilson stressed.
The EU even offers additional incentives for Indonesian
exporters to boost exports to the EU which plans to promote the
use of biofuel including one from palm oil, he said.
Incentives, however, will be given only to those producing CPO
through eco-friendly process, he added.
Indonesian Palm Oil Industrial Cluster Project To Be Build In
JAKARTA, June 25 Asia Pulse - Construction of an upstream palm
oil industrial cluster in Dumai, Indonesia will cost around Rp20
trillion (US$3 billion).
The funds would be needed to build road infrastructure, port,
drinking water supply facility and new units of processing
factory, head of the provincial industry and trade office
Herliyan Saleh said.
Herliyan said a number of big palm oil producers had shown
interest and agreed to invest in the project.
PT Wilmar, for example, had already invested Rp7 trillion to
build the port facility and expand production capacity.
The interest shown by palm oil companies had also encouraged
banks to take part in financing the project, he said in the
newspaper Investor Daily.
Support from the government by declaring Dumai as the basis for
the expansion of downstream palm oil industry in the country was
needed, he said.
Saudi Investors Exploring Agri Opportunities In West Java
BANDUNG, W Java, June 25 Asia Pulse - A number of Saudi
investors are interested in investing their capital in the
agricultural and animal husbandry sectors as well other
small-and medium scale business sectors in West Java.
The Saudi investors` interest was expressed during a meeting
between West Java Governor H Ahmad Heryawan and Saudi Ambassador
to Indonesia Salim Seghaf Al Zufrie at the governor`s office
here on Wednesday.
During the meeting, the ambassador was accompanied by a number
of business players from the Middle East.
"There are several investment potentials in West Java that
attract Saudi investors, such as agriculture, livestock breeding
and trade," Al Zufrie said.
He said that his side would focus their talks and investment
plans of the Saudi investors on West Java. The investors are
interested in supporting development of West Java`s agriculture,
agribusiness and animal husbandry such as cow and sheep breeding.
In the near future, the Saudi ambassador will take Saudi
investors to observe directly the business potentials in West
Java province.
After a meeting with the governor, the Saudi ambassador and
representatives of Saudi businesses held an intensive talk with
the local investment coordinating board (BKPMD).
"We offer all business potentials that West Java has, including
the energy and tourism sectors," Governor Heryawan said.
During the visit, the ambassador also studied about West Java`s
investment regulations, particularly with regard to security
conditions and the smoothness of investment.
At present, Saudi investors have made investments on the
agricultural sector in Kendari, North Sulawesi and Fakfak.