Tag Archives: INDONESIA

Indonesia quake death toll rises to 23: Official

The death toll from a powerful earthquake that rocked Indonesia’s remote Maluku islands has risen to 23, the disaster agency said Friday, as more than 15,000 people were evacuated to shelters.

Terrified residents ran into the streets as buildings fell in around them with the 6.5-magnitude tremor sparking landslides that buried at least one victim on Thursday.

Among the confirmed dead was an infant, with many killed by falling debris in and around quake-struck Ambon city.

“The total number of people who died is 23,” national disaster mitigation agency spokesman Agus Wibowo said in a statement.

More than 100 people were also injured and at least 15,000 people had to evacuate because their houses were damaged by the strong jolt, Wibowo said.

Hundreds of houses, offices, schools and public facilities have also been damaged in the disaster. Authorities have set up emergency tents and public kitchen for the evacuees in several districts.

The US Geological Survey said the quake struck about 37 kilometers northeast of Ambon in Maluku province at a depth of 29 kilometers.

The Southeast Asian archipelago is one of the most disaster-prone nations on Earth.

It experiences frequent seismic and volcanic activity due to its position on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, where tectonic plates collide.

Last year, a 7.5-magnitude quake and a subsequent tsunami in Palu on Sulawesi island left more than 4,300 people dead or missing.

Nearly 60,000 people are still living in makeshift accommodation nearly a year after the double disaster, the Red Cross said this week.

In 2004, a devastating 9.1-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Sumatra and triggered a tsunami that killed 220,000 throughout the region, including around 170,000 in Indonesia.


Indonesian riot police clash with student protesters

Indonesian riot police shot multiple rounds of tear gas at thousands of stone-throwing students who attempted to reach Parliament in Jakarta on Wednesday to protest a new law that critics say cripples the country’s anti-corruption agency.

Police said more than 300 students and police officers were treated in hospitals for injuries suffered in a similar protest in the same area the previous day.

The demonstrators are enraged that Parliament passed the law last week to reduce the authority of the Corruption Eradication Commission, a key body in fighting endemic graft in the country.

Police fired tear gas at protesters from several high schools Wednesday afternoon as they tried to approach Parliament, turning nearby roads into a smoke-filled battleground. Protesters fought back, hurling rocks and bottles at riot police and setting fires to a nearby bus stop.

Clashes between protesters and police also occurred in other cities, including Padang, Palu, Garut and Bogor.

Police in Padang, the capital of West Sumatra, were unable to stop thousands of university students who stormed into the local parliament building. The angry protesters smashed windows and chairs and wrote insults against the government on the building’s walls.

The protests are not associated with any particular party or group, and instead are led by students, who historically have been a driving force of political change in Indonesia. Their demonstrations in 1998 triggered events that led longtime strongman President Suharto to step down.

Student groups have vowed to continue returning to the streets until the new law is revoked.

Jakarta police chief Gatot Eddy Pramono said at least 265 students and 39 police officers were treated at several hospitals in the country’s capital for wounds suffered on Tuesday, with the injuries ranging from minor to serious.

Officials at Jakarta’s Pertamina Hospital said 90 students were treated there for injuries that included broken bones, head wounds and respiratory problems due to tear gas. Most were discharged Wednesday, but three with head wounds remained hospitalized.

Another student was undergoing surgery at Pelni Hospital after suffering bleeding in his brain and fractured shoulder bones.

The fallout from the new law has threatened the credibility of President Joko Widodo, who recently won a second term after campaigning for clean governance.

The demonstrators are demanding that Widodo issue a government regulation replacing the law, which reduces the commission’s authority and independence.

Corruption is endemic in Indonesia and the anti-graft commission, one of the few effective institutions in the country of nearly 270 million people, is frequently under attack by lawmakers who want to reduce its powers.

Hundreds of officials from various branches of government have been arrested since the independent anti-graft commission was established in 2002 as part of people’s demands during a reform movement following the ouster of Suharto.

Pramono said at a news conference that police arrested 94 people accused of violent acts in Tuesday’s protests, which turned violent as darkness fell.

“We are still investigating whether they are students or other members of society with different interests,” he said.

The protesters also demanded that Parliament to delay votes on a new criminal code that would criminalize or increase penalties on a variety of sexual activities, as well as other bills on mining, land and labor.

Opponents say the proposed criminal code would violate the rights of women, religious minorities, lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender people, as well as freedom of speech and association.


Indonesian Tobacco Giants Plunge on Steep Hike in Excise Tax

 PT Hanjaya Mandala Sampoerna, a unit of Philip Morris International Inc., led a decline among Indonesian cigarette makers after the government announced a plan to raise excise tariffs that will increase retail prices by more than a third next year.

Sampoerna slumped 22%, the most since 1991, while PT Gudang Garam tumbled by the same magnitude, the biggest decline since May 1998. The sell-off in cigarette producers dragged the benchmark Jakarta Composite Index of stocks down by as much as 2.2%, the most since Aug. 6. The index was the worst performer in Asia on Monday.

The excise duty on cigarettes will be hiked by 23% from Jan. 1, with retail prices lifted by 35%, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said on Friday.

Here’s how analysts view the excise hike:

  • RHB Sekuritas (Michael Wilson Setjoadi, Jessica Pratiwi, Marco Antonius)
    • RHB Sekuritas downgrades the tobacco sector to underweight. Brokerage maintains a preference for Sampoerna as it is seen as more defensive given its earnings are less sensitive to excise duty than Gudang Garam, and it offers more premium products
    • Lowers Gudang Garam’s 2020 earnings forecast by 33% and cuts rating to sell from buy; Lowers Sampoerna’s 2020 earnings forecast by 21% and downgrades rating to neutral from buy
  • Maybank Kim Eng Sekuritas (Janni Asman)
    • Excise duty will have significant negative impact on volume as second liner brands will no longer be a support for the companies
    • Negative sentiment may persist and put downward pressure on Gudang Garam and Sampoerna share prices
  • Citigroup (Vivi Lie, Ferry Wong)
    • Higher excise tariff does not mean weak earnings
    • With the increase in retail prices, a rise in average selling prices would vary based on brands. Cheaper brands will have to raise prices more than the premium brands due to the excise tax hike.
    • The down-trading trend among smokers has been preventing big players from hiking average selling prices for fear of losing market share


Indonesia investigates possible ISIS link in Papua riots

The Indonesian National Police’s Counterterrorism Squad, Densus 88, is probing a likely involvement of the Islamic state (ISIS) group in a string of riots in the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua, Indonesia’s Antara News Agency reported.

The police are working all-out to unearth the masterminds behind the riots, said Chief of the Public Relations Bureau of the National Police Brigadier General Dedi Prasetyo.

A string of violent rallies broke out in several parts of Papua and West Papua as an upshot of the alleged racist slurs against Papuan students in Surabaya, East Java.

In the West Papua provincial capital of Manokwari, a rally against the alleged racist slurs took a violent turn on August 19, with some protesters setting ablaze a local parliamentary building and tires in several parts of the city.

Demonstrators went on a rampage, vandalizing and setting ablaze several government buildings.

The police have alleged that Papuan separatist figure Benny Wenda had masterminded the riots. He is believed to have disseminated hoaxes and attempted to provoke on social media.

However, the police cannot take legal measures against Wenda, as he is no longer an Indonesian citizen.

Earlier, an investigation, jointly conducted by the National Police, the National Intelligence Agency and the National Cyber and Encryption Agency, had discovered 1,750 Facebook and Twitter accounts that had been the source of 32,000 fake news articles and provocative content about the current security situation in Papua. Some of these accounts were operated from overseas.

The findings were already reported to the Communication and Informatics Ministry. All of the fake news articles have been deleted from Facebook and Twitter.

Police have named 57 suspects in anarchist violence in Papua and 21 suspects in riots in West Papua.-VNA


KL minister slams Indonesian police over football row

Malaysia’s Youth and Sports Minister has chided the Indonesian police force for downplaying the violence that broke out at the Malaysia-Indonesia World Cup qualifying match as fans “splashing water”.

“If they were only ‘splashing water’, why was the game forced to be halted until the situation was calm again,” Mr Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahmah questioned on Twitter yesterday.


Indonesia to start constructing new capital next year

Construction of Indonesia’s new capital in East Kalimantan province in the central parts of the country will commence next year, a minister said on Tuesday.

The statement came a day after Indonesian President Joko Widodo precisely unveiled the new capital’s location which is partly in the district of Penajam Paser Utara and partly in the districts of Kutai Kertanegara of the province. The site is near the coastal cities Samarinda and Balikpapan, which are important for coal and oil shipment.

Indonesian Minister for Housing and Public Work Basuki Hadimuljono said that the building of the new city would be undertaken within three stages.

“For basic facilities, such as roads, clean water installation and sanitation, they will be designed this year, and in 2020, we will start constructing them,” said Basuki.

A total of 180,000 hectares of land has been provided, 40,000 hectares of which is for government office buildings, he said.

The minister reaffirmed the shifting of the country’s capital to East Kalimantan province, which is situated is less crowded Borneo Island, from Jakarta city, which has been overcrowded and congested, will kick off in 2024, media reported.

Over 10 million people live in Indonesia’s capital of Jakarta, which is situated in a main Java Island. The city and the island is home to more than a half of the country’s 260 million population.


Police officer who suffered severe burns while securing protest in West Java dies from injuries

Adjunct Inspector Erwin, who was one of four police officers who suffered burns while securing a student protest in Cianjur, West Java, on August 15, has passed away in a Jakarta hospital this morning.

West Java Police spokesman Trunoyudo Wisnu Andiko told reporters today that Erwin succumbed to his injuries at Pertamina Central Hospital soon after midnight today.

“He has fallen while carrying out his duty to the state and the people today as a result of the burn injuries he sustained while on duty,” Trunoyudo said, as quoted by CNN Indonesia.

Trunoyudo added that Erwin, who had served on the police force for 25 years, leaves behind a wife and two children.

On Aug 15, college students from various student organizations gathered outside Cianjur’s Regional Legislative Council (DPRD) office to protest what they described as the faltering quality of education in the region.

The protest descended into chaos when somebody from the crowd of protesters allegedly threw a plastic bag containing fuel towards the police officers, which then exploded into flames when coming into contact with a flaming tire the officers were trying to put out.

Video footage of the incident, which have gone viral online, shows the moment the bag of fuel was thrown as well as people frantically trying to put out the fire that engulfed Erwin’s entire body (we are not including the video due to its highly graphic and disturbing nature).

Reports said Erwin sustained burns to up to 80% of his body, while the three other officers suffered burns to around 40% of their bodies.

Police arrested 30 protesters immediately after the incident, while three, including a man who allegedly tossed the bag of fuel at the flaming tires, have been named suspects. The charges against have not yet been announced, but, in light of Erwin’s death, they may be charged to murder and face the death penalty.


Islam growing, living in peace in China: head of Indonesia’s largest Muslim organization

China’s Xinjiang issue is a separatist one, rather than religious, said Aqil Siradj, chairman of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the largest Muslim organization in Indonesia, told the Global Times in an exclusive interview.  

“China’s religion policy is more democratic than other Muslim countries, even our country, Indonesia,” Siradj told the Global Times. “You can see this from Article 36 in China’s Constitution and the white paper of China’s policies and practices on protecting freedom of religious belief.”

Hoping to inform more Indonesian people about Islam in China as well as the real situation in Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, which has been twisted by some Western countries, NU released a book titled Indonesian Muslims’ China Studies last month, which details what the organization members have seen and experienced in China.

This is the first book in the world that systematically introduces the development and real situation of Islam in China, Siradj said. He hopes the book will change “the negative perceptions of a small group of Indonesian Muslims.” 

NU, which enjoys more than 90 years of history, has about 40 million members. Former Indonesian president Abdurrahman Wahid once was chairman of NU. 

According to Siradj, 23 members from NU wrote this book together which includes their personal experiences and research. He noted that the idea of penning this book came naturally as they wanted to share the truth they have seen.  

The organization’s members have frequently paid visits to China over the past few years, particularly to places that boast a rich Islamic culture and heritage. They also met with Chinese Islamic scholars to share their experiences during the trips. “We found they are treated by the [Chinese] government very well,” he said. 

He noted that, after visiting China, he found the Western narrative that “Islam is suppressed in China” could not hold water. “Our finding is Islam is growing in China. They live in peace with other Chinese people and they receive support from the government, such as building mosques, schools and offices.”

He added that it’s easy for Muslims in China to practice their religion.

During their stay in China, they once joined the Friday prayers in an old mosque with a capacity of 20,000 people. As too many people participated in the prayers that day, some even went outside to pray, according to Siradj.

Western media have said that the government of Indonesia, the country that hosts the largest Muslim population in the world, remains silent on the issue of China’s Xinjiang policies. Siradj believes the opinions of the NU can represent the majority of Indonesian Muslims. Siradj has said in previous media reports that Xinjiang is very good and safe, and there is no need for the Indonesian government to interfere.  


Indonesia blocks internet in Papua in bid to curb protests

Indonesia has cut off internet access in eastern Papua to prevent provocative posts online from fuelling violence, after protesters torched buildings, a market, and a prison over the mistreatment of students and perceived ethnic discrimination.

Police have flown in 1,200 additional officers to Papua to quell sometimes violent protests since Monday in several towns, including Timika –– which stands near the giant Grasberg copper mine operated by Freeport McMoran’s Indonesian unit –– as well as Manokwari, Sorong, and Fakfak.

Indonesia’s chief security minister, police chief and military commander visited Sorong on Thursday to inspect where the protests erupted, but there no reports of fresh demonstrations there.

Troops accused of rights abuses

While a separatist movement has simmered for decades in Papua, with frequent complaints of rights abuses levelled against Indonesian security forces, the recent anger appears to be linked to racist slurs against Papuan students who were detained last week.

The students were arrested from their dormitory in the city of Surabaya in East Java after being accused of disrespecting the Indonesian flag during a celebration of Indonesia’s Independence Day.

Indonesia’s communication ministry has blocked access to telecommunication data and internet to prevent Papuans from accessing social media since Wednesday night, though calls and text messages will still work, Ferdinandus Setu, ministry spokesman said.

“This is an effort to curb hoax and most importantly stop people from sharing provocative messages that can incite racial hatred,” he said, adding that the curb may be lifted “if the situation has calmed”.

Police have arrested 20 people in Timika, where thousands of protesters threw rocks at a parliament building, houses, shops and a hotel on Wednesday, Dedi Prasetyo, a national police spokesman said by telephone from Sorong.

No arrests have been made in other Papuan towns, Prasetyo said.

President Widodo to visit 

Papua and West Papua provinces, the resource-rich western part of the island of New Guinea, were a Dutch colony that was incorporated into Indonesia after a UN-backed referendum in 1969.

President Joko Widodo has been informed that the situation in Papua was under control, his Cabinet Secretariat said in a statement late on Wednesday.

Widodo has sought to ease tensions and improve welfare by building infrastructure in the provinces. 

He has visited the restive region more frequently than any of his predecessors, and plans to go to Jayapura, the capital of Papua province, next month, to open a new bridge, the secretariat said.