Monday, October 24, 2016


(Note.West Papua was part of the story)


Aussie actress Adele Perovic stars in the political thriller series from ABC, The Code and since showing her true acting grit in the first series, returns for a second.
Perovic began first took acting classes at the age of five, before studying drama during high school and majoring in Theatre Arts at University in Toowoomba, Queensland. After University, Adele got the role of Eva Lee in the short lived TV series Slide in 2011 and then went onto greater things such as the movie Fell in 2014 and now the ABC TV series The Code.
We recently caught up with Adele to get to know her a little better, and we ask about her thoughts on some of the scary subject matter her character Hani comes across in The Code series and how scary it really is in West Papua, one of the show’s settings. We find out what makes Adele smile and what makes her tick. We also discover her favourite movies, TV shows and whether or not Adele plays video games.
I first wanted to congratulate your show on the huge win at the Australian Writers’ Guild’s 49th Annual Awards. The Code has now actually made history winning twice in a row now for the major award.
Yes, thank you so much, I love how Aussie it sounds too – nicknamed ‘ AWGIE’.
The Code has become quite the favourite Aussie cult hit as of late. With so many other shows available now and great shows being cancelled all the time, did you think The Code would make it back for a second outing?
I guess because it was so successful the first time around, we sort of felt it would be. But with the first one’s plot being so complicated, we were like, can we do that again? Can Shelley (Shelley Birse – Writer & Creator) do that again? But she did and in a very short space of time which was pretty amazing.
Your character of Hani Parande whom is now with the character of Jesse Banks (played by Ashley Zukerman) in The Code, really came through to me as a sort of protector in the first series. Someone that ended up looking out for him and falling for him of course. What I love, as with most TV shows and even books, is it’s down to interpretation. What is your take on Hani as a character and why you think Hani and Jessie ended up together?
When you’re playing someone that is duplicitous, especially in the first season, it’s kind of hard to figure out how much do you play on either side of being that kind of double sided character and we came to the conclusion that she had always had a crush on him from afar and that this is her opportunity to get closer to him.
Seeing someone that’s not neurotypical in a neurotypical world, having someone to support his differences is a strong choice for a writer to make. What I also love about Hani is she is kind of motivated by her own personal factors in a very different way to Jessie. Hani and her parents are sort of refugees, but she has a loving family and other things that Jessie doesn’t have. I like the gaps in their relationship, like when Hani realises Jessie doesn’t have certain stuff and Jessie realises that she has things that he doesn’t have. It’s an interesting space to be able to look around. I guess Hani is very privileged also, when Jessie isn’t and that works in very well to the plot.
I loved how they don’t overplay or focus too much on Jessie and his mental disability, it wasn’t a major problem when Hani falls for him and they never bring it to the forefront as being a major issue. Just focus on the character, know he has these issues and move on.
Yeah, that he is allowed to be different. Obviously there are some issues being with someone that is not neurotypical, but I like how this is celebrated here.
The subject matter of series two revolves around child abduction and human trafficking. Was it a scary thing to bring to the screen and what were your thoughts when you read the script?
That it was incredibly intense. The child abduction was frightening to read. But, learning about West Papua, I actually found that the most horrifying actually. Also meeting the activists that helped and worked on the show. Knowing there is this real present danger for activists in West Papua. It is an intense situation partly because Australia benefits from Indonesia being in West Papua with mining interests. It was a very intense place to exist in and an intense topic to be putting on Australian television. I am very proud to have been a part of it all.
The most stand out for me was meeting the West Papua activists Ronny Kareni (who plays Theo in The Code) and his wife Sixta, it was a personal highlight for me.

                                               Adele’s highlight, meeting West Papua Actvist Ronny Kareni

A slightly different question here, your character of Hani seems to be pretty well set with how she copes with stress and just comfortable in who she is. But she can get angry too. What makes you tick in real life? What makes you angry the most?
Oh god, so many things. I am quite an angry person really. Hani and I share this characteristic because we are both so ideological. Things like the government and policies I think are just stupid like Australia’s relationship to different countries of the world. So many things, probably everything makes me angry in some way.
What makes you smile? That is probably a harder question.
Strange people, unique people. Strange and unexpected stories make me smile. Weird and flawed people. People who don’t get what they want I think, like unsuccessful people are the most interesting.
Do you and the cast get together outside of filming The Code?
Yeah we do. It’s a little hard because we are all kind of split. Ash (Ashley Zukerman) works a lot in the states and his partner is from Holland so he is there a lot as well. Dan Spielman has kind of been back and forth from New York with his wife Yael Stone to Australia. When they are around and in the same continent we hang out when we can.
What are some of your favourite movies?
My favourite would be a Romanian film that is called Four Months, Three Weeks & Two Days which is about a young woman trying to get an abortion in the Ceausescu regime in the 80’s.

My most recent favourite was Kelly Reichardt’s new film Certain Women. Not even the whole movie was the reason, mainly the ending, because it had some of the most incredible acting I have ever seen.

Do you have any favourite TV shows?
I have so many, I am into TV more than I am film. I just finished Mr Robot which is very akin to The Code with ‘hacking’ as well. HBO’s Insecure is great as well, loving that. I also just watched Fleabag which is this new BBC show. My all-time favourite though? Shit? I can’t choose, maybe I won’t choose. I will just pause on that one.
Any other actors you look up to and would love to work with in the future?
Lily Gladstone (Certain Women) who is from the Pacific North West, I believe she is going to get much bigger now that she has been in this film. She is such a wonderful actor I would love to work with somebody like her. To be honest, I love working with normal people, like what we talked about before, not so successful people. I feel like regular people are so much more interesting than a lot of the big time stars.
What’s your stance on gaming? Do you play any or even smartphone apps?
You know what? I don’t. I did just start tutoring this Chinese girl called Sue and she has been showing me all these hectic games that she plays and it is cool, so maybe I will try get into some of that, but no. I am very interested in those kind of worlds though. I did play Dungeons and Dragons the other day though. It was so cool; I am into it. Maybe I will start with the low-fi version of gaming and go from there.
What’s coming up for you next and any word on The Code series three?
No word on series three just yet, we will see what happens. It would be great to do it all again. I am just trying to work on my own stuff at the moment. We shall see how all that goes.
Thank you again for your time Adele. I love your work and I really do hope we see you for a series three of The Code.
The Code Series 1 & 2 are now available on DVD and digitally.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Indonesian military officer shot in shootout with separatists in Papua

Indonesian military officer shot in shootout with separatists in Papua

Minggu, 23 Oktober 2016 21:04 WIB | 506 Views
Jayapura, Papua (ANTARA News)- An Indonesian military officer was shot in an exchange of gunfire with separatists in Philia, Gurage, Puncak Jaya District, Papua Province, on Saturday.

"Thats right, one military officer was shot in an exchange of gunfire with armed group members," Major General Hinsa Siburian, commander of the Cenderawasih XVII Military District, said here, Sunday.

The shootout occurred in Philia, Gurage, when several military officers were on patrol.

First Private Yani was shot at his right hand and left leg, Siburian said.

The injured officer was rushed to Mulia Hospital. (*)

Saturday, October 22, 2016

1) West Papua, Indonesia and the Pacific

2) Papua to be pilot project for tackling sexual violence cases

1) West Papua, Indonesia and the Pacific
Free Public Lecture-Melbourne
Dr Budi Hernawan and Nic Maclellan will explore political developments in West Papua and the intractable conflicts between the Jakarta Government and its Papuan opponents. The diplomatic struggle between the Indonesian Government and United Liberation Movement for West Papua in the Melanesian Spearhead Group and the Pacific Islands Forum will also be discussed. 
The Melanesian Spearhead Group is the only forum where both Papuans, through the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, and the Indonesian Government have a seat at the same table. Human rights abuses and the behavior of the Indonesian security forces are critical issues both in the politics in West Papua and the diplomatic struggle in the Pacific. At the recent United Nations General Assembly Session the leaders of seven Pacific states raised human rights abuses in West Papua.


2) Papua to be pilot project for tackling sexual violence cases

Sabtu, 22 Oktober 2016 18:38 WIB | 833 Views
Jayapura (ANTARA News) - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has plans to make the easternmost Indonesian province of Papua a pilot project for handling cases of sexual violence, according to ICRC spokesperson Ita Prawira.

Papua was selected as a pilot project because the number of the victims of sexual violence in the region was quite high, Ita said when contacted by ANTARA here Saturday.

"We have conducted research and coordinated with relevant institutions in the region, and results indicate that the number of the victims of sexual violence in the province is quite high," she said.

Although Papua had been selected, she remained uncertain which districts and towns would be the focus of the project, Ita added.

"The ICRC will not work alone, we will cooperate with the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) as partner, as we did in the previous programs," she said.

One reason for cooperating with the PMI is that people are not familiar with PMI other than as a blood bank, Ita explained.

"So, we also want to show the public that the PMI focuses on other fields such as sexual violence," she said.(*)

1) Continuing Restrictions on Free Expression in West Papua

2) Minister vows to improve logistics flow in East Indonesia

3) Indonesia to apply uniform fuel prices next year


October 21, 2016

1) Continuing Restrictions on Free Expression in West Papua

UNPO conducted an interview with Aprila R.A. Wayar on her experiences as a journalist carrying out her profession in West Papua. Wayar was born in West Papua and grew up in Java. After graduating from the local university in Java, she returned to West Papua to work as a journalist. Her personal experiences shed light on the restrictions of the freedom of opinion and expression frequently experienced by local and foreign journalists in West Papua.
As the experiences by Ms Wayar reveal, journalists working in West Papua are limited in their freedom of expression out of fear of legal and social sanctions if they openly display their genuine opinions. She emphasizes that “as a journalist in West Papua, I cannot express to people around me what is truly going on.” Such self-censorship, which generally arises from fear of violence and harassment by public officials as well as from social condemnation of pro-independence sentiments, often provokes journalists to conceal their political views. Journalists who do report from the Papuan perspective while opposing those of other people, Wayar points out, are often condemned for being separatist or labelled pro-independence. In addition to social denouncement, journalists that have reported on sensitive political topics as well as persons interviewed by journalists have often been subject to physical violence as well as murder and kidnapping.
Foreign journalists have additionally been subjected to foreign media restrictions. Even though a 25-year ban on foreign media that prevented foreign journalists from entering West Papua was lifted last year, “the ban was lifted only on paper,” Wayar reveals.  She points out that the Indonesian government and security forces continue their efforts to impede foreign media access. Foreign journalist that have uttered critical political views have been placed on visa-blacklists. In 2015, Cyril Payen for example, a reporter for France 24 television, faced a visa ban after having produced a documentary that was condemned for generating pro-independence sentiments. Furthermore, journalists that have managed to get a visa to report on West Papua have been subjected to monitoring of their activities in the area, which might influence the content of their news reports. Such control that government officials have over journalists might produce a lack of news stories that cover multiple sides, including those of people that are critical of government policies. The result of such restricted foreign media access is, Wayar argues, that the international community including those who promote the human rights of the West Papuan people are insufficiently aware of the local issues experienced by Papuan people. 
Raising awareness of the challenges that indigenous peoples in West Papua face is crucial for enacting change in the area, Wayar emphasizes. Papuan people run the risk of losing their identity: “in 2050, there will be no Papuan people left.” She points out that the age-old history of Papua and its unique culture is being lost because it is not transferred to the next generation. Instead, a new ‘history’ is taught that ignores Papuans’ indigenous culture and promotes an Indonesian flavored story. Additional challenges that Papuan people face are widespread immigration from foreigners as well as poverty and insufficient access to education and health care, which is only accessible for those living in large cities. In order to generate improvements of the living and social conditions of the Papuan people, Wayar argues, the marginalization of indigenous peoples needs increased national and international awareness. As such, the profession of journalism and the safe performance thereof might be of crucial importance for the wellbeing of the people in West Papua.

2) Minister vows to improve logistics flow in East Indonesia

Jumat, 21 Oktober 2016 23:03 WIB | 607 Views (ANTARA News) - Minister of Transportation Budi Karya Sumadi vowed to improve the logistic flow in Eastern Indonesia, considering the gap between the countrys Eastern and Western sides, which results in the East not receiving the best services.

"There is some sort of a gap between Indonesias Eastern and Western sides, where the East is not receiving the best services possible. The vast area of land and the low income of the residents often result in goods with high price tags. They are also often hard to obtain that in some cases, people can go hungry," Sumadi said in a press release received here on Friday.

The majority of logistics in East Indonesia can only be delivered by air transportation, as there are about 250 airports scattered in different areas of Papua, through which logistic supplies can be distributed, he added.

"Looking at the current situation, we will continue to make serious efforts to improve the logistic flow in the Eastern region. The ministry is also working to come up with a solution to solve the issue of connectivity in logistic supply not only to the Western zone but also to the Eastern territory," he stated.

He further said that there will also be few plans lined up to improve East Indonesias logistic flow.

The ministry has also called on the Indonesian National Air-Carriers Association (INACA) and the Indonesian National Ship Owners Association (INSA) to take efforts to solve the issue of logistics flow in East Indonesia.

Sumadi stated that in 2017, private entities will also be involved in marine highway projects, for which tenders have already started coming in and the subsidy will be about Rp200 billion.

"In January 2017, we will start the projects in three areas, namely West Sumatra, East Kalimantan and Maluku. These projects will improve the roles of private and public organizations in the marine highway program," he revealed.

He also said that he will evaluate the routes, increase occupancy levels, improve the quality of goods and involve more private institutions to be in line with the efforts to improve logistic flow.

He expressed hopes that the logistics will then be distributed evenly to all the areas in the Eastern part of the country, including regions surrounded by mountains like Mulia and Ilaga, through air tolls and rivers routes.

"There will also be new flight routes around the Papua territory, which are established to distribute supplies to areas that are harder to reach by means of land transportation. We are also considering the use of rivers routes to boost the distribution of goods in Papua," he reiterated.(*)
3) Indonesia to apply uniform fuel prices next year

JAKARTA, Oct. 21 (Xinhua) -- The Indonesian government planned to adopt uniform fuel prices across the country next year.
Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Ignasius Jonan said on Friday that the government was to create related regulation and design fuel distribution mechanism, expecting that the policy would take into effect next year.
"The price of fuel from Sabang to Merauke and from Miangas to Rote island would all be the same, enabling our fellow bothers to enjoy similar fuel prices," Jonan said in a statement, referring to Indonesia's tip regions in all directions.
The policy was formulated following President Joko Widodo's visit to the easternmost region of Papua where fuel prices were much higher than that in key island of Java and in western regions.
During his visit on Tuesday, the president assigned the state-run enterprises minister and state oil and gas firm Pertamina to take efforts in addressing the issue.
Jonan said the government would guarantee prices of fuel sold in gas stations would be at the same level anywhere nationwide.
The disparity of fuel prices between western and eastern region has long been blamed for hindering the development in the east, which lags far behind the nation's center of economic activities in the west.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

1) Editorial Papua priority

2) Countdown on for Indonesia’s response


1) Editorial Papua priority

October 21, 2016 | 07:15 am
The latest visit by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo raises both hope and worry. Can he win over the hearts and minds of people in Papua and West Papua? He certainly is trying — by improving traditional markets, inaugurating power facilities and eliminating the wide price gap of fuel compared to other areas in the country.
Jokowi’s new “one fuel, one price” policy, however controversial and difficult, should serve as an example of the President’s commitment and his clear leadership in demanding that his policy is supported.
Although state-run oil company Pertamina will have to cough up subsidies estimated at an annual Rp 800 billion (US$61.53 million) to end soaring fuel prices in Papua, what’s important, Jokowi insisted, was “[…] justice for all Indonesians”.
Papuans would certainly hope that this presidential wish and clear understanding of their sense of injustice applied beyond their neglected needs of fuel and infrastructure. Justice for all includes an end to what Papuans say is general stigma toward them as either being separatists, incompetent or both. This underlying attitude, they say, leads to discrimination and suspicion against Papuans voicing any sign of dissent, which leads to dangerous accusations of treason.
Therefore, like his new fuel policy, Jokowi needs the full support of his government, the military and police in ending that stigma, which has served to justify violence in the hunt for separatists and hurting innocents in the process, often fatally.
Society’s attitude that such violence is rightly targeted at suspected rebels has immensely contributed to continued impunity and repeated abuses. As a result, earlier arrests of protesters in Papua cities, Jakarta and Yogyakarta, for instance, have led to accusations that Indonesia is surely a free and democratic country – except for Papuans voicing their grievances.
The government must also ensure serious follow up in relation to the team tasked to resolve human rights abuses in Papua by the end of the year. The team was set up by Jokowi’s former security chief minister Luhut B. Pandjaitan.
Despite billions of rupiah poured into Papua, the President, who has just served two years, bears the legacy of past failures to address Papuans’ sense of discrimination and Jakarta’s obliviousness to human rights abuses against them, even with the Papua Special Autonomy Law. These factors have contributed to today’s louder international campaign against Jakarta regarding Papua.
Our diplomats’ splendidly articulated thrashings of criticism of our alleged continued neglect and abuse and/or discrimination of Papuans won’t work, as long as those grievances are not perceived to be seriously addressed by Papuans.
Australia’s statements that an independent Papua is not in its best interest has boosted our confidence on the world stage — but it doesn’t wash with Papuans who say they are not getting enough decent jobs compared to migrants, for instance, or still don’t feel safe amid security personnel hunting suspected rebels.
President Jokowi now can repeat, loudly and clearly, that he wants dialogue with all stakeholders, mainly his citizens from Papua.

2) Countdown on for Indonesia’s response

  • By Len Garae

The Chairman of Vanuatu Free West Papua Association, Pastor Allan Nafuki says all civil society organisations in country are united with the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Pacific Islands Association
of Non-Government Organisation (PIANGO), Emele Duituturaga, to support the request made by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) to Indonesia, to formally respond to allegations of racial violence and discrimination against Papuans by November 14.
It is a sign that the attitude of the UN to West Papua’s case is beginning to change.
The PIANGO CEO expressed these sentiments following UN CERD chair, Anastasia Crickley’s notification to Indonesia’s UN Permanent Representative, Triyono Wibowo that the committee’s recent session had considered allegations of killings and violence of indigenous Papuans in West Papua.
“I write to inform you that in the course of its 90th session, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has considered, under its early warning and urgent action procedure, allegations of excessive use of force, arrests, killings and torture of persons belonging to the Papuan indigenous people in West Papua, Indonesia, and allegations of discrimination against this people, that have been brought to its attention by a non-government organization”, Miss Crickley stated in the October 3rd dated correspondence.
“Reportedly, between April 2013 and December 2014, security forces killed 22 persons during demonstrations and a number of persons have also been killed or injured since January 2016. It is alleged that in May 2014, more than 470 persons belonging to the Papuan indigenous people were arrested in cities of West Papua during demonstrations against extraction and plantation activities”.
The letter continues, “... Such arrests have reportedly increased since the beginning of 2016 amounting to 4000 between April and June 2016 and have included human rights activists and journalists. Such acts have reportedly never been investigated and those responsible have gone unpunished.
“The submission claims that repression of persons belonging to the Papuan indigenous people is the result of a misinterpretation and lack of a correct implementation of the Special Autonomy Law by local and national authorities of Indonesia. The submission also claims that actions by security forces constitute violations of the rights of freedom of assembly and association”.
Duituturaga said the committee’s requests for information indicates how seriously it is treating the allegations made by civil societies to the UN about the treatment of indigenous West Papuans by the Indonesian government.
“CERD has given Indonesia until Novembers 14 to provide information on its response to the allegations, the status of implementations of the Special Autonomy Law in West Papua, measures taken to ensure the effective protection of indigenous people in West Papua from arbitrary arrests and detentions as well as deprivation of life”, she said.
Indonesia has also been requested to report on measures taken to ensure that indigenous people from West Papua effectively enjoy their rights to freedom of assembly and association including persons with dissenting opinions, measures taken to investigate allegations of excessive use of force by security forces including killings and steps taken to improve access to education of Papuan children in West Papua in particular those living in very remove areas of the UN CERD.
“Indonesia is not only the third largest democracy in the world, they are an emerging economic powerhouse but their inability to apply democratic principles in West Papua threatens their credibility with the international community.
“The ball is in their court now and Pacific civil societies are eagerly awaiting November 14 alongside UN CERD to read their response,” Duituturaga said

What about a WPexit?

What about a WPexit?

West Papuans deserve the chance to vote to leave Indonesia

22 October 2016

West Papuan children singing at a church service in Jayapura

It is now more than 50 years since Indonesia took over what had been briefly declared as independent West Papua in 1961. Time enough for the Papuans to have happily embraced the benefits of being part of Indonesia, one would have thought. However West Papua, the Western half of the island of New Guinea, commonly referred to as ‘Indonesia’s restive Papua’, or ‘troubled Papua’, has had continuing demonstrations and protests against Indonesian rule, usually suppressed with brutality by Indonesian military and police.
At the recent United Nations General Assembly, seven Pacific Island nations – Solomon Islands, Nauru, the Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, Tonga, Palau and Vanuatu raised their concerns about Indonesia’s actions in West Papua, and some even used the F word – freedom. Predictably, Indonesia responded angrily as it always does to any questioning of its rule over the western half of the Island of New Guinea. Some of the Melanesian nations are also advocating for Melanesian West Papua to join the group of Melanesian nations called the Melanesian Spearhead Group – again in the face of opposition from their powerful neighbour, Indonesia.
On a visit to West Papua in August this year, as the guest of a Papuan women’s group (Soliditaras Perempuan Melanesia Papua Barat – Melanesian Women’s Solidarity West Papua) it was easy to see why Papua is described as ‘restive’ and ‘troubled’. Most of the Papuans I spoke to had suffered some form of discrimination or harassment, some had been tortured and imprisoned by Indonesian military or police, and many had relatives who had been killed. In general they felt the Indonesian government, although paying lip-service to cultural diversity, was trying to destroy Papuan cultural identity by the transmigration program, and, in various ways, killing the Papuan people. People spoke of unexplained deaths they attributed to poisoning, the disembowelling of people thought to be separatists, hit and run killings and unprovoked shootings by police and military. This perception meant that they were always in a state of fear for themselves and their families. I found this quite shocking. Although I do not think that my government (Australia) always has my interests at heart, I am confident that it is not trying to physically eliminate me and my ethnic/cultural group.
The takeover of West Papua by Indonesia involved both violence and duplicity. In the 1960s, the US, Indonesia and reluctantly, Holland signed an agreement (the New York Agreement) about the fate of West Papua. Under this agreement, ‘all adults, male and female, not foreign nationals to participate in the act of self-determination’ i.e. to decide whether West Papua would be integrated into Indonesia or would become independent. Prior to the referendum, Indonesia sent its military in to overpower and intimidate the indigenous population, and organised what they called the ‘Act of Free Choice’ (which has become known among West Papuans as the ‘Act of No Choice’). In this mockery of democracy, only 1,025 Papuans (out of a population of about 800,000), selected by the Indonesian military were allowed to vote. The vote itself was by a show of hands, surrounded by Indonesian soldiers, with Papuans voting under extreme duress – threats by the Indonesian military against their families and themselves if they voted against integration.
In one of the most shameful episodes in the history of the United Nations, it acquiesced in Indonesia’s takeover of West Papua via this sham ‘Act of Free Choice’. Australia disgracefully facilitated this when, at the request of the Indonesian Government, Australian officials detained two West Papuans, Clemens Runawery and Wim Zonggonao, who were en route to inform the United Nations that the coming vote in July –August 1969 would not be free and fair. The United States also, with its acceptance of the invasion of East Timor, let morality and justice fly out the window when expediency knocked at the door. Declassified documents released in 2004 by the US Congressional Research Services indicated that the US government was aware that between 85 – 90 per cent of Papuans opposed Indonesian rule and a free vote (1969) would have resulted in West Papuans’ independence.
The incorporation of West Papua into Indonesia has left a bitter legacy of mistrust and feelings of betrayal, and the methods used by successive Indonesian governments to quell dissent and consolidate ownership of the considerable natural resources have only exacerbated these feelings. The lack of accountability for atrocities committed by Indonesian security forces is both a reason to fear and a major source of bitterness.
The Pacific Islands nations’ statements should be a wake up call to the UN to rectify the unjust decision to accept the ‘Act of Free Choice’ as a democratic expression of the will of the West Papuan people. The UN really failed West Papua – it’s time to make amends and hold a fair, UN-monitored referendum on self-determination for the West Papuan people. With UN troops present to avoid the kind of bloodbath that happened after the East Timor independence ballot if the West Papuans did indeed vote for WPexit.

1) Reviewing Indonesia’s foreign policy, or lack of one

2) Two years after election, Widodo’s popularity surges

1) Reviewing Indonesia’s foreign policy, or lack of one
Tama Salim The Jakarta Post
Jakarta | Thu, October 20 2016 | 08:17 am

After two years at the helm of Southeast Asia’s largest economy, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo continues to face allegations that Indonesia is punching below its weight on the international arena.

Part of the reason Indonesia remains a relatively unknown middle power on the global stage might be due to the way foreign policy is shaped under Jokowi’s direction — or lack thereof.

“Compared to SBY, I believe the current government has a much lower [foreign policy] profile,” House of Representatives Deputy Speaker Fadli Zon said on Tuesday, referring to former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Unlike the internationalist flavor of foreign policy that Yudhoyono championed during his reign, Jokowi has puzzled the diplomatic community with his fragmented approach to global politics, leaving most of the legwork to Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi.

But even Retno’s influence has been questioned, as the inclusion of non-foreign ministry actors into the decision-making process further complicates the chain of command.

“Ultimately Jokowi calls the shots,” said Evan Laksmana, a researcher at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

“But when it comes to influential voices of foreign policy, unfortunately the President does listen to other members of his inner circle outside the Foreign Ministry,” he said without elaborating.

In late 2015, President Jokowi was criticized for delegating 12 ministers the additional task of following up economic partnerships and investment plans, a move that critics have considered overstepping the authority of the Foreign Ministry.

In its actual implementation, these liaison ministers would represent the state at diplomatic occasions such as foreign national days and act as a go-between for country partners at times when they need to communicate directly with the Presidential Palace.

Such a move would not be warranted if Jokowi had a dedicated team on foreign policy within the rungs of the palace, as was the case in the previous government.

Unlike Jokowi, Yudhoyono appointed Teuku Faizasyah to stand in as spokesperson and information gatekeeper on international affairs.

While inside sources say Jokowi still relies on his top diplomat Retno to have the final say on global matters, things become less obvious when the government tackles cross-cutting issues that are likely to brush against competing interests.

On the allegation of past human rights violations in Papua, for example, the spotlight was on Luhut B. Panjaitan, who at the time was coordinating political, legal and security affairs minister.

In dealing with increasing pressure from the international community to resolve the Papua issue and subdue the brewing separatist movement in the resource-rich island, Luhut took the bold step of promising to resolve these issues by the end of this year.

On the foreign policy front, Luhut went on a tour of the South Pacific, accompanied by several regional heads from Papua, Maluku and Nusa Tenggara — representing Indonesia’s Melanesian population — in an effort to consolidate support in the region.

Follow-up efforts managed to prevent the separatists from crucially joining the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) — at least temporarily.

There were also too many talking heads in the ongoing hostage crisis in the Sulu Sea south of the Philippines, which had become a regional hotbed of terrorist activity.

After being hit by a string of kidnappings involving the notorious Abu Sayyaf militant group and its offshoots, Retno’s ministry launched its own rescue efforts but eventually had to deal with the military and several non-state actors, like retired Army general Kivlan Zein, getting involved.

Retno used the catch-all phrase “total diplomacy” to explain the seemingly disjointed rescue efforts.

Eventually a crisis center was formed at Luhut’s former office to serve as the sole gateway for rescue efforts, while Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu and Indonesian Military commander Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo worked to implement a trilateral security agreement in the region. Currently two Indonesian hostages remain captive.

International relations expert Beginda Pakpahan from the University of Indonesia (UI) noted that “as long as all efforts were coordinated by the Foreign Ministry and not taken over by other relevant agencies”, everything would be fine. (sha)
Ina Parlina and Nurul Fitri Ramadhani also contributed to the report.

2) Two years after election, Widodo’s popularity surges
October 19 2016 11:24 PM 
By Ahmad Pathoni/DPA/Jakarta

When Indonesian President Joko Widodo came to power two years ago after a closely fought election, he faced an opposition majority in the legislature bent on obstructing him. Today the tables have turned.
Joko’s coalition now holds some 67% of the parliamentary seats after two key coalition parties switched allegiance in a move attributed to his astute political manoeuvring.
“Jokowi has been very successful in consolidating his power,” said Emrus Sihombing, a political analyst at Pelita Harapan University.
“Now there’s hardly opposition to his policies,” he said.
Joko, a former furniture businessman, won the presidential election in 2014 promising to boost economic growth and eradicate corruption.
“We’re seeing progress in the infrastructure sector, with the construction of new power plants, roads and railway lines, and people appreciate that,” said Ari Kuncoro, an economics professor at the University of Indonesia.
“With the favourable political climate, Jokowi can implement his economic plans without hindrance,” he said.
Public satisfaction with Joko’s performance has also increased, according to a recent poll.
A survey released in September by the Jakarta-based private think tank Centre for Strategic and International Studies found that Widodo’s popularity rose nearly 16%, to 66%, from last year.
Joko enjoys high approval ratings for his perceived success in improving food security, strengthening the domestic industry and developing the country as a maritime power – among his key campaign promises, according to the poll.
He has also won plaudits for making healthcare and education more accessible for the poor.
The president has jetted across the far-flung archipelago to inaugurate and inspect various infrastructure projects, as part of his signature hands-on leadership style.
“God willing, Papua and West Papua (provinces) won’t be dark anymore by 2019,” Joko said after inaugurating six power plants in Papua on Monday.
Joko has courted China to help build the country’s infrastructure, whose dilapidated state is seen as an impediment to strong growth.
China is building a 140km high-speed railway connecting the capital Jakarta and Bandung in West Java, while direct foreign investment from China has also increased.
The Indonesia economy grew 5.2% year-over-year in the second quarter.
“Indonesia needs to achieve economic growth of more than 6% if it wants to create more jobs,” Ari said.
Joko is not without his critics. His appointment of a former military chief with a dubious human rights record has raised doubts about his commitment to solve cases of past rights abuses, including army excesses in the rebellious Papua region.
“In terms of human rights, I give him zero,” said Haris Azhar, the head of the local human rights group Kontras. “Not a single past rights abuse case has been solved,” he said.
Joko’s tacit alliance with the military has raised concerns about the return of military control over civilian life.
Under Joko, the military has been given non-combat roles including increased security functions, helping police in combating terrorism and drug trafficking, as well as serving as advisers in the government’s food self-sufficiency programme.
“Indeed, constrained within a tangle of oligarchic politics, Jokowi has to do what needs to be done to advance his political goals,” wrote Emirza Adi Syailendra, an analyst with the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.
“The puzzling question is, however, whether these political transactions will, in the long run, be worth it for Indonesia’s democratic progress,” he added.