Mimin Dwi Hartono, Acting Head, Support Bureau for the Advancement of Human Rights, Komnas HAM (National Commission on Human Rights), in Republika.id (March 19, 2022)
Summary by Made Ayu Mariska (Photo credit: Antara)
The Indonesian government’s revocation of the maximum retail price for cooking oil on the market caused prices to soar amid a shortage in the market. The government has been submissive to the power of the cooking oil cartel and has ignored human rights.
There are three principles related to the state, business and human rights. First, businesses must respect human rights. Second, the government must protect human rights from all forms of business actions that have the potential to or have violated human rights. Third, the government and corporations are required to provide a mechanism for handling complaints and implementing regulation when human rights violations are caused by businesses.
In his meeting with the House of Representatives on 17 March 2022, the Minister of Trade acknowledged the scarcity of cooking oil caused by cartels. He did not, however, reveal any names of companies and admitted that he was unable to deal with them.
Soon after, the ministry revoked the provision to set a maximum retail price for cooking oil. The price is now left to the market mechanism so that more cooking oil will gradually become available but at a very high price. Instead of taking control of the situation, now the government has been captured by businesses and the market.
Cooking oil is one of the basic needs of Indonesians for various purposes, from household to food businesses of all scales. As a result, it has an impact on the economic rights of residents, the level of welfare, and unemployment due to the loss of job opportunities for food vendors.
The state, which should be protecting and fighting for human rights, has failed in overcoming the cartels from the top, by regulating oil palm plantations and cooking oil production, to the bottom, through law enforcement.
Arya Fernandes, Head of the Department of Politics and Social Change, Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), in Koran Tempo (March 1, 2022)
Summary by Made Ayu Mariska (Photo credit: Muchlis Jr/Cabinet Secretariat of the Republic of Indonesia)
The proposal to postpone the general election and extend the term of President Joko Widodo (known as Jokowi) shows a weak commitment to democracy and could potentially lead to political instability. This idea is undemocratic because it closes the opportunity for a succession of national leadership in a regular and orderly manner and for political competition in the presidential and legislative elections.
Political parties are pushing two arguments to support the idea of postponement. First, there is economic stagnation. In 2021, however, Indonesia's GDP grew 3.39 per cent (year-on-year) after previously experiencing a correction of -2.07 percent. Even the Bank of Indonesia predicts GDP growth of 4.7-5.5 percent in 2022. Second, the public is said to support a third term for Jokowi. This reasoning, however, is invalid because a survey conducted by Indikator Politik in 2021 shows that most respondents believe that the maximum 10-years or two presidential terms must be maintained.
There are three arguments why the idea of extending the presidential term and postponing the general election should be rejected. First, the idea denies democratic commitments and democratic values. Article 7 of the 1945 Constitution states that the president and vice president have a five-year term and can be re-elected only once. The clause allows no political space for extending the presidential term to over ten years. Second, this denies the spirit and agenda of the 1998 reformation, which emphasized the limitation of the president's power. Third, the extension of the term of office will also disrupt the political order, especially in holding elections every five years.
The idea of extending the presidential term threatens the development of democracy in Indonesia and can potentially lead to political instability.
Roy Martin Simamora, Lecturer in Educational Philosophy, Indonesian Institute of the Arts Yogyakarta (ISI JOGJA), in Kompas (January 29, 2022)
Summary by Made Ayu Mariska (Photo credit: Roman Woronowycz/USAID/Pixnio)
No matter how good the education system, curriculum or school is, if it does not produce and encourage creativity among students, the education is in vain. Often parents and teachers' ambitions kill the creative dreams of students and throw off their identity. Our education then produces people with the mentality of followers.
Every child grows and develops with different potential. Some children are good at painting, counting, reading, speaking, remembering, playing sports, singing and many more talents that need to be explored. But all these talents grow because of the creativity of each individual.
Teachers must give freedom to students to find solutions instead of forcing them to guess what the teacher wants as an answer. Parents and teachers forbid students to make mistakes, but children learn best from their errors. Being wrong does not mean that children are going to stay that way forever. Instead, they will learn more about pain, joy, happiness and sorrow from their mistakes. If parents and teachers do not let them derive lessons from those mistakes, they will never produce original work. Eventually, their creativity gets dulled.
Schools always strive for the "right" answer rather than exploring alternative explanations. Moreover, schools are too focused on the results rather than the process, understanding, discussion, varying perspectives, and motivation to do things differently. Instead of learning in a structured and linear way by the textbook, classes could be more engaging if students have the freedom to learn, discover, build, experiment, investigate, solve problems and find the information they need, as well as to debate strengths and weaknesses of different points of view.
Nirarta “Koni” Samadhi, country director of World Resources Institute (WRI) Indonesia, in Koran Tempo (November 30, 2021)
Summary by Made Ayu Mariska (Photo credit: Max Pixel)
At the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, the world committed to stop deforestation and land degradation. Different parties pledged to contribute to preserving the environment. Indonesia, as the co-chair of the country members of the FACT (Forest, Agriculture and Commodity Trade) Dialogue, promised to protect the forests in their commodity trade. In addition, over 30 financial institutions that cumulatively manage US$ 8.7 trillion in assets committed to eliminating deforestation risks in their investments in the agricultural and farming sector by 2025.
Apart from restoring forests, President Joko Widodo gave a speech on his plan to replant 600 hectares of mangrove. An ideal ecological and social forest and land restoration requires active cooperation with the people who own or occupy the land. The mangrove restoration initiative funded by the World Bank must, therefore, be designed and implemented through cooperation among the key actors. Consequently, it ensures restoration funds reach the community groups and local entrepreneurs who are working on land restoration. It is the only way to make a transformative systemic change.
To fulfil the promises made at Glasgow, the signatories to the closing declaration and relevant stakeholders need to establish a clear and measurable work plan to achieve the stated goals by 2030. Collaboration among all parties including business, civil-society organizations, and indigenous peoples and local communities is vital. It is essential to have transparency in monitoring, reporting and verifying the progress of implementing these commitments.
Luther Lie, lawyer and Founder and President of the Indonesian Center for Law, Economics, and Business, in Media Indonesia (January 12, 2022)
Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: Kementerian Badan Usaha Milik Negara, Republik Indonesia)
Every year, nearly two million Indonesians travel abroad for medical treatment. As a result, the state lost revenue worth 97 trillion rupiah (US$6.8 billion). This is the reason for constructing the Bali International Hospital, President Joko Widodo said at the groundbreaking. The hope is that Indonesian citizens will no longer go abroad to get health services, and even foreigners will fly in. When medical facilities in countries such as Singapore and Malaysia are more sophisticated, with many doctors available, why choose Indonesia?
Indonesia needs more than just international hospitals to capture health travelers, both domestic and international. First, if Indonesia is serious about becoming a center for medical tourism, a strategy is needed to acquire the most advanced medical technology. This could be the added value of the Bali International Hospital compared to reputable hospitals in other countries.
Second, Indonesia needs its sons and daughters to return to serve the country. The health minister has acknowledged that Indonesia has a shortage of doctors. At least 700 doctors died due to Covid-19. This is the time for Indonesian doctors who graduated abroad to return home. Many talented physicians want to return, but regulations make this almost impossible. But if doctors want to serve their homeland, why hinder them from doing so?
If the government is serious about making Bali a world health-services center and attracting two million Indonesians as well as foreign tourists, we need more than just luxury facilities. The country's medical system needs a breakthrough: It should not be limited to just services but also needs to be supported by high-quality education, research and development.
Global technology and talent, especially Indonesian diaspora doctors, are the keys to improving the quality of the national health system. Indonesia needs more than just an “international” hospital to host world-class healthcare.
Petrus Richard Sianturi, Founder and CEO of Legal Talk Society, in Koran Tempo (November 15, 2021)
Summary by Made Ayu Mariska (Photo credit: Novrian Arbi/Antara)
The Minister of Education, Culture, Research, and Technology's regulation for the prevention and handling of sexual violence in higher education is a beacon of hope for the protection of victims. Indonesian criminal law has not been very friendly to the victims. This regulation, however, will not be strong enough if the state still maintains loopholes that allow perpetrators to make retaliatory accusations against the victims.
In many cases, perpetrators sue victims for libel because they can claim their name has been tainted and they know the victims do not have solid evidence. Libel reports by suspects of sexual violence need to be reconsidered so that the substance of the problem that needs to be resolved first, namely sexual violence, does get ignored. If the police shift their investigation to the libel case, the process gets muddied.
To avoid this situation, the state must first resolve allegations of sexual violence experienced by the victim even though there is a report by the suspect. Then, the viability of the libel case should be determined by the results of the investigations into the allegations against the perpetrator. This is to ensure that victims of sexual violence get a fair treatment of the case.
If these changes are made, the state can protect victims and help them recover. And it can move forward to eradicate sexual violence in any form, especially on a school campus.
Al Araf, chair of the governing body of Centra Initiative and senior researcher at Imparsial (The Indonesian Human Rights Monitor), in Koran Tempo (October 5, 2021)
Summary by Made Ayu Mariska (Photo credit: Prananta Haroun/Unsplash)
Indonesia is having a freedom-of-expression crisis. Arrests of those who criticized the government shows that civil liberties are being constrained. Since 2018, researchers and academics have observed that those in power aim to restrict their opposition and groups that are critical of authority.
On several occasions, President Joko Widodo has used non-democratic methods to manipulate and suppress opposition groups, for example, by politically manipulating the laws on blasphemy, treason and community organizations.
There are three ways by which the freedom of expression is being restrained. The first is by limiting participation in demonstrations. The second is by restricting the space for teachers and students to express their opinions and ideas. The third is the criminalization of and violence against activists who attack corruption and advocate for human rights, the environment and other issues.
There are at least three reasons why limits are being applied on civil liberties. First, in the current political climate, there is a desire to minimize as much as possible the differences of opinion among the people, opposition groups, and authorities. Second, there are threats to civil liberties due to conservative and orthodox security perspectives that prioritize maintaining the regime's political stability and sustainability. Finally, the authorities use repressive and ambiguous regulations as the basis for criminalizing opposition groups or critics of the rules.
Indonesia needs to make changes and improvements such as changing the state paradigm on security that ignores human rights. There should be more respect for human rights, updating of laws, legal reforms, and strengthening of supervising mechanisms, as well as better implementation and enforcement.
Hastin AB Dumadi, Minister Counsellor and head of the Economic Department of the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in Singapore, in Kompas (October 6, 2021)
Summary by Made Ayu Mariska (Photo credit: UNICEF)
The South Korean boyband BTS appeared at the 76th General Assembly of the United Nations. This shows that Korea takes their soft power diplomacy seriously. According to a report by US National Public Radio (NPR), BTS is estimated to contribute at least US$5 billion to the economy each year. In addition, BTS attracts tourists to South Korea through its concerts, while also advancing the country’s fashion, merchandise and food industries, among others.
Just like South Korea, Indonesia has great potential to advance its creative economy. Many Indonesian entrepreneurs have contributed to and invested in the creative sector through movies on Netflix and international film festivals, being featured in Hollywood blockbuster movie soundtracks, fashion weeks, and culinary diplomacy.
There are four key factors required to advance Indonesia's creative economy:
First, strong will, especially from the government, is needed to give priority to the strengthening of the creative industry as one of the sources of economic strength.
Second, all crucial parties must put in the hard work.
Third, consistency in regulation, creation and maintaining quality to build strong branding for Indonesia and contributors to the creative industry.
Finally, strong collaboration among all stakeholders will lead to success by creating a conducive creative-economy ecosystem. The government, private sector, and talents must work hand in hand to move forward.
If Indonesia can bring together all the various elements needed for such an ecosystem, this sector can undoubtedly become a great driver of economic growth.
Dwikorita Karnawati, director of the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), in Media Indonesia (October 1, 2021)
Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: cea +)
Though it has been three years, the earthquake and tsunami that occurred on September 28, 2018, are still etched in memory. More than 2,000 people died in the disaster. A rare type of earthquake, where the fracture velocity exceeds the speed of seismic shear waves and causes a sonic boom. An earthquake of this type was also blamed for the disaster that hit San Francisco in 1906 and killed more than 3,000 people.
The government’s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) has changed the socialization material to educate the public, especially those who live along tsunami-prone coasts. The simple message is, if you feel an earthquake shock, immediately run away from the beach to a high place, without waiting for an early warning or siren.
Whether a tsunami occurs or not, the important thing is to save yourself first. This message is part of our effort to build a culture of safety by increasing the community's capacity to carry out self-evacuation. Having this capability will be very effective in protecting coastal communities from tsunamis, as has happened in the communities of Japan in 2011, Nias in 2005, and Aceh in 2004. Bearing in mind, in some parts of Indonesia, the estimated time of arrival of a tsunami ranges from one to seven minutes. The old principle of 20-20-20 (if you feel a shaking on the beach for 20 seconds, immediately run to a place higher than 20 meters because a tsunami will come 20 minutes later) seems no longer appropriate.
Another thing which is no less important is to build a reliable communication network infrastructure. Not only is it vital in disseminating early warning messages but communication networks are also vital in disaster reaction, rescue and relief. No one can predict when the earthquake and tsunami will occur but with the involvement of all parties – the central and local governments, community, academics, private sector and media – to provide comprehensive education and robust mitigation plans and efforts, then Indonesians can manage to live with the threat of disasters. Like in the Korean television series Squid Game, Indonesia is in a race against time. Every second is so precious.
Yanuar Nugroho, Co-Founder and Advisor, Centre for Innovation Policy and Governance, and deputy chief of staff to the president of the Republic of Indonesia from 2015 to 2019, in Kompas (September 15, 2021)
Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: uyeah)
What should be the priorities in the remaining months of the Joko Widodo-Ma'ruf Amin administration?
Jokowi has been seen as working hard to fulfill his promises. Focusing on tackling poverty and inequality, his first administration devoted significant resources to human, village and infrastructure development programs. In his second term, the president presented five goals: economic transformation, continuing infrastructure development, developing human resources, bureaucratic reform, and simplifying licensing. In addition, there are the plans to move the capital to East Kalimantan and prepare a long-term development plan. All of this is aimed at strengthening the foundation for realizing the dream of 2045 when Indonesia will become the world’s fourth or fifth largest economy.
But then Covid-19 hit. The achievements of development that had been achieved were shattered. And the ability to fulfill the promises have also been affected – infrastructure may be stalled but still relatively on track. It could be that what once appeared to be the government's hesitation to prioritize health over the economy at the start of the pandemic actually reflected its trepidation that these promises could not be realized. Because, after all, the fulfillment of political promises is the key to gaining people's trust.
Therefore, the government must ensure that all these promises are attained or at least a roadmap to achieve them prepared. This must be done now, and in a more effective way. It cannot be business as usual. the promise of the five visions must be emphasized as the key target.
The true legacy is not the memories of the past that remain after death, but the provision for stepping into the future. Jokowi's best legacy through all his hard work must be the foundation for his successors to make this nation not only more advanced, but also more civilized and dignified.
Darwin Darmawan, doctoral student in political science at the University of Indonesia, in Kompas (August 24, 2021)
Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: Mohammad Rizky ramadhan)
Corruption in Indonesia is very concerning. The Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2020 issued by Transparency International ranks Indonesia at 102nd out of 180 countries. This makes Indonesia a highly corrupt country. Over the past decade, Indonesia's CPI has only improved by five points. This means that efforts to eradicate corruption are far from effective.
Corruption is so very shameful. The elite predators of public money exist in almost all the political parties. Some are public officials. Those who are supposed to be role models have become perpetrators of violations. The punishment for corruption is relatively light, with some still receiving reduced sanctions. What a shame!
But why is it difficult for this country to get rid of corruption? What strategies need to be taken to succeed in its eradication? According to Alina Mungiu-Pippidi, the leader of a coalition for a clean parliament in Romania, before any anti-corruption program is carried out, it is necessary to determine whether the corruption that occurs is part of the culture or a deviation from it.
Indeed, we need to determine whether we dealing with corruption in a traditional society or in a democracy? In the first case, corruption is related to the culture of privilege, that certain social elites are naturally accorded benefits because of their status. In the second kind, corruption is seen as a violation of the law. Cultural and religious factors are indeed dominant in the practice of corruption in Indonesia. The culture of corruption is not visible. But it is lived by the people of Indonesia. Like the "devil within", it is evil and hated – yet it drives human corruption. It all works through a culture of prestige. This culture encourages people to want to exist through material possessions. And that inevitably leads to corruption.
Jaya Suprana, pianist, composer and founder of Sanggar Pembelajaran Kemanusiaan (Humanity Learning Center), in Kompas (August 9, 2021)
Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: isawasi)
In 2001, after then president Abdurrahman Wahid lifted the ban on celebrating the Chinese New Year, the message was that racism was no longer an issue in Indonesia. Personally, I am friendly with fellow citizens of different ethnicities and religions without ever having encountered any racism or intolerance. When reporters from The New York Times and CNN interviewed me about allegations that in Indonesia today there is still discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities, I firmly emphasized that Indonesian people are neither racist nor intolerant as some in the foreign press have said.
When the coronavirus epidemic was rampant, however, the question of racism and intolerance resurfaced. I started to have doubts about my own personal belief that the Indonesian people are tolerant and not racist. It was beyond my knowledge that minority races and religious minorities were still being treated unfairly and in an uncivilized manner. My personal perspective being limited and shallow, I did not know anything about the reality of life in my beloved homeland.
My vision is myopic so I could not see the reality beyond the reach of my sight. So I humbly ask for guidance about the facts on the ground and the parties who dare to violate the law that strictly prohibits racist and intolerant attitudes and behavior. What evidence is there of racist and intolerant behavior in Indonesia?
Ary Hermawan, editor-at-large and PhD student at the Asia Institute of the University of Melbourne, in The Jakarta Post (July 7, 2021)
Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: Cabinet Secretariat of the Republic of Indonesia)
As the Covid-19 second wave engulfs the nation’s most populous island, we can no longer ignore how the ongoing health crisis has exposed the structural problems underpinning our democracy, how the state has failed us in one of the most challenging times in history.
The pandemic is a disease that exacerbates the ills of society. It is a test case for every political regime in the world. Indonesia is sadly among the worst performers. After all the pandemic carnage, we cannot afford to sustain the social and political comorbidities that have brought us to where we are today. We should no longer let state power lie in the hands of a select few who are elected to office through either corruption or patronage.
These are real problems that have severely compromised our democracy. Our elections have become just another means of accumulating wealth and power for those already endowed with both. Our democracy is far from inclusive; only those with strong financial backing can successfully run for office.
When Joko “Jokowi” Widodo became president in 2014, we thought the people had won in the struggle against the elite. How wrong we were. He was forced to appease the political bigwigs and oligarchic powers just to stay in office and do his job. With political-business elites having such sway, we should not be surprised that policies seem to favor those elites and that during these challenging times, the government seems to be part of the problem rather than the solution.
Corruption and rent-seeking remain rampant during the pandemic, which may have even provided a bigger opportunity for the elite to get richer and more powerful. There is no quick fix. But if the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that a structural transformation of our body politic is past due.
Agus Yulianto, journalist, in Republika (May 24, 2021)
Summary by Made Ayu Mariska (Photo credit: Erlian Zakia Ayu Anggarani/Pixabay)
Located right on the equator, almost all of Indonesia, from Sabang to Merauke, has high levels of soil fertility. If the proper application of technology accompanies cultivation, then Indonesia can achieve food self-sufficiency and security. Indonesia, however, does not make optimal use of its natural resources so it still imports a significant amount of food meet its basic needs. The farmers’ lack of technology ultimately results in lower production and quality.
The national sugar needs are met by issuing import allowances to factories with industrial business licenses for entry into any port without the government’s permission. There has been no incentive to maximize domestic production. Indonesia is also importing increasing amounts of salt, soybeans, corn and garlic.
President Joko Widodo proposed importing rice in 2021. Due to criticism and pressure from several parties, however, Jokowi finally decided that there should be no imports until the end of this year unless there is an emergency that forces the government to maintain the national rice reserve stock.
So far, there has been initiative to strengthen the domestic food processing industry and increase the production of raw materials so that it does not always depend on imports, which are detrimental to local farmers as they put deflationary pressure on prices. The government, therefore, must change mindset. Food security should be reached by farmers maximizing domestic production. This would not only allow Indonesia to be independent from other countries’ production but it will also improve the livelihood of farmers.
Indonesia is a large nation with an incomparable abundance of natural resources. It must be appropriately managed for the welfare of the people and not for the wealth of the few people who take advantage of Indonesia's “deficient” conditions by importing.
Jannus TH Siahaan, commentator on defense and security issues, in Tempo (May 4, 2021)
Summary by Made Ayu Mariska (Photo credit: Frida Skjæraasen/Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation -Norad)
The government’s decision to classify the armed criminal group in the provinces of Papua and West Papua as terrorists might be the wrong step in solving the ongoing conflicts. By classifying the group as terrorists but keeping military actions secret, the government will only receive more criticism from various parties for violating human rights.
Instead of labelling the Free Papua Movement (OPM) as a terrorist group, the government needs to carry out widespread education nationally to achieve consensus from the Indonesian public that the OPM is a rebel group that wants to establish an independent state and destroy the unity and integrity of the Republic of Indonesia. Indonesia must convince the international public at the UN that the conflicts in Papua are an internal, not an international, affair.
Beyond military and diplomacy issues, the economic and social problems in Papua must be addressed. The government must take Papua’s development to the next level. The region suffers from more than just a lack of infrastructure, Papuans struggle with poverty, unemployment, and social inequality, while witnessing their rich natural resources being exploited. The government has to increase their presence to deal with sociocultural and environmental-protection issues.
Fiscal spending for social and cultural development must be determined proportionally, along with the budget for environmental preservation, in addition to the establishment of fundamental regulations for protecting the environment and cultural development. The regulations related to social order must be addressed humanely and with environmental nuances, not only taking into account economic considerations, but also the sustainability of Papuan culture and environment.