Indonesian military TNI to welcome two Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets this year

The Indonesian military is expected to welcome two Sukhoi Su-35 “Flanker-E” to its combat aircraft fleet in October, after signing a contract to buy the fighter jets from Russia.

A spokesman for the Defense Ministry, Brig. Gen. Totok Sugiharto confirmed that the contract for 11 multirole combat aircrafts was signed in Jakarta on Feb. 14.

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Sukhoi Su-35. Photo;

Rear Adm. Agus Setiadji, head of defense facilities agency at the ministry, signed on behalf of the Indonesian government with a representative from Russia’s state-owned defense product broker, Rosoboronexport.

The first two fighter jets are expected to arrive in early October, said Totok, in time to take part in the TNI parade to celebrate armed forces day on Oct. 5. TNI is the Indonesian acronym for the Indonesian Armed Forces.

“The Sukhoi jets would replace the existing F5-E Tiger jet fighters fleet,” he added.

The contract, worth $1.140 billion, was finalized following negotiations that started in 2017. It includes the signing of a bilateral deal in Moscow in August to barter coffee, tea, palm oil, cacao, spices and the commodities’ derivatives, processed fish and textiles as well as Indonesia’s defense products with the Sukhoi fleet. Indonesian state trading company PT Perusahaan Perdagangan Indonesia and Russian state conglomerate Rostec will be the agencies implementing the barter trade.

The part-barter deal will allow Indonesia to pay 50 percent of the Sukhoi jet fighter contract by exporting its commodities valued at $570 million, Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita said in August at a joint press conference with Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu.

“With this barter deal, Indonesia can export more commodities that we have exported before, as well as the ones that we didn’t get to export previously,” Enggartiasto said.

Under Indonesia’s defense industry law, the procurement contract for defense equipment from foreign producer is subject to at least 35 percent offset requirements. Russia has said that it will provide 35 percent offset from the contract value by providing a training for maintenance and repair of the Sukhoi fleet.

In October, then-military chief Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo said in accordance to request from the air force, that the Sukhoi jets will be equipped with air-to-air missile, air-to-ground missile, bombs, ground support equipment, simulator, spare parts and spare engines.

The Indonesian Air Force already has a full squadron of Sukhoi Su-27 SKM and Su-30 Mk2 jets.

Since the administration of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who is President Joko Widodo’s predecessor, Indonesia has been significantly increasing its defense budget to modernize its aging Armed Forces fleet and equipment and rejuvenate its defense industry.

Its spending on military equipment aims to meet the minimum essential force target by 2024 or the bare minimum of primary defense equipment to safeguard the country’s vast archipelago.

This article first appeared in Arab News

It’s connectivity that matters: Indonesians use smartphones and internet for staying in touch

If there’s one thing that Indonesians can agree on when asked what smartphones and the internet are most useful for, it would be to access social media and messaging applications.

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A survey conducted by the Indonesian Internet Service Providers Association (APJII) and the Indonesian Telecommunications Society (Mastel) showed that 95.1 percent of respondents use smartphones to access social media applications, while 73.7 percent said they use it to access messaging applications.

The survey was conducted across the country from October to November involving 1,020 respondents, more than half of them are high school and university students, followed by professionals and entrepreneurs.

The most popular social media applications among the respondents are Instagram with 82.6 percent, while 66.5 percent named Facebook and 49.6 percent said they liked Pinterest.

The top chat application is Line with 90.5 percent respondents, followed by WhatsApp and Blackberry Messenger with 79.3 percent and 33.10 percent  respectively.

Typical of these users is 19-year-old waitress Andini Sugeha, who says she uses Facebook most of the time but the features she most uses are messaging services.

Uploading photos and chatting with friends are what draws user to these applications the most.

“I use Facebook to upload photos while I also do that on Instagram, and I use WhatsApp as well to chat,” Andini said.

Media professional Ami Afriatni said she has been on Facebook for a decade and still uses it mainly to stay in touch with friends and families living in faraway places, while for her works she finds Twitter is most useful.

“It is helpful to get news updates, personal insights public figures might offer or official statements of some credible organizations. People also often take to Twitter to respond to recent issues and to express their stance,” Ami said.

As a budding photographer, she uses Instagram to sharpen her photographic skills, adding that the entertainment aspect of the photo sharing platform is the main draw for her.

In a reflection to the APJII and Mastel survery, Ami said social media and messaging applications are equally important but agreed that social media platforms have reached maturity while messaging applications are more important.

“I think there are rooms for improvement for this, let’s say creating a messaging applications that are more friendly to elders or communities who are less exposed to technology,” she added.

But the proliferation of hate speech, hoax and fake news on Facebook, especially as they relate to political preference, has made the world’s largest social networking platform no longer as enjoyable as it used to be, she said.


Internet stakeholders in Indonesia are well aware of the problems and in anticipation of regional elections this year, the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, APJII and Elections Supervisory Body have launched a campaign against online hoaxes.

The three agencies, along with local representatives of internet giants including Google, Facebook, Telegram, Twitter, Line, MeTube, Bigo Live and Live Me signed on Feb 7 a memorandum of understanding to curb the spread of hate speech and fake news related to the elections.

ICT Minister Rudiantara said the drive to issue such declaration started in 2016 and every party involved in the online ‘ecosystem’ had an obligation to be part of it.

“So, there is no reason for service provider not to takedown [negative content] when the General Elections Committee and Elections Supervisory Body request for it because they are the independent bodies that organise the elections and are well aware of election rules and regulations,” Rudiantara said.

APJII chairman Jamalul Izza, said application providers and related parties agreed it was time for joint effort to curb negative content, as previous experience during the divisive presidential election in 2014 and Jakarta gubernatorial election last year showed how content that incited hate and misinformation directed at some candidates can flourish and go viral.

“Therefore, as the internet ecosystem in the country we agreed to safeguard the 2018 regional elections to make them free from negative contents and hate speech,” Jamalul said.

An APJII survey released in November showed that there were 132.7 million internet users in Indonesia, out of its 256 million population.

The ICT Ministry has been stepping up its efforts to ensure that the material available online does not breach local standards for behavior and morality. That includes material related to homosexual activity. In January, it asked Google to suspend applications related to LGBT activities from its Google Play Store so that they are no longer accessible in Indonesia.

It also said it has handled 72,407 complaints regarding pornographic content on the internet in January. Earlier in the month, the ministry has begun to operate an artificial intelligence-based censorship system to using keywords to detect and crawl pornographic content online.

The US$14-million dollar machine was installed following years of manual monitoring that failed to curb the flood of illicit contents on the internet, especially pornographic material. A ministry team will evaluate and verify the data crawled and take the necessary measures such as blocking the sites if they are validated to have inappropriate content.

“Global and national internet providers are urged to be active in ensuring the availability of positive contents and suppress negative material from spreading,” ministry spokesman Noor Iza said.

The story first appeared in Bangkok Post



Muslim clerics in Indonesia push lawmakers to outlaw gay, extramarital sex

Following advice from the top Muslim clerical body, Indonesian lawmakers are poised to pass a set of revisions to the country’s penal code that would criminalize extramarital sex and gay sex.

During a meeting with House Speaker Bambang Soesatyo and members of the bill deliberation committee on Tuesday, the Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI) called for clauses that would expand the definition of adultery and gay sex between consenting adults, according to MUI legal committee chairman Basri Barmanda.MUI

Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI) clerics, House Speaker Bambang Soesatyo and lawmakers had a meeting in MUI office on Feb. 6 to exchange views about the expansion of adultery definition in the criminal code draft. Photo: MUI

“We also asked the lawmakers to impose heavier sentences to such offenders. Thank God our requests have been accommodated,” Basri said.

The proposed revisions to the criminal code, which could be voted on next week, offer a five-year prison term for adultery and one year for couples accused of cohabitation.

Arsul Sani, a legislator from the Islamic-based United Development Party, attended the meeting with MUI and said in January that people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) could be prosecuted because of their “deviant behavior.”

“We are going to be firm, that we should forbid those kinds of relationships,” Bambang told reporters after the meeting. “The fact that they occur in private, only God knows, but the state has to regulate it when same-sex relationship is shown in public and causes public anxiety.”

The parliament is expected to vote on Feb. 14 following 12 years of deliberation to revise the country’s outdated penal code known by its acronym KUHP, which was written during the Dutch colonial era.

Bambang said that parliament could delay the vote, saying some articles require additional discussion. The next hearing session starts on March 5 and finishes on April 27.

An online petition calling to refuse the bill has gathered more than 60,000 signatures since it was launched two weeks ago.

Potential crimes

In addition to changing penalties for adultery, the bill would allow the potential prosecution of health volunteers, social workers and NGO activists advocating for family planning by publicly showing contraceptives, but unauthorized by the government to do that. Those prosecutions would not carry prison sentence but violators could face fines of up to 10 million rupiah (about U.S. $730).

“Criminalizing sexual behavior and [displaying] contraceptive tools could create a climate of fear in the midst of society and eventually makes people afraid to access health care because they could be prosecuted,” Ajeng Gandini, a researcher from Jakarta-based rights advocacy group Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR) said.

She also said the proposed bill is counterproductive to the government’s family-planning program and contradicts the health law and other regulations.

“The use of contraception is inevitable. Therefore, information regarding the use of contraceptive tools should not be something prosecutable,” Ajeng said.

Insults outlawed

The bill also includes an article advocates see as a setback to Indonesia’s progressive democratization and freedom of expression by outlawing criticism of the government’s leaders. The article states punishment for “publicly insulting the president or the vice president” is up to five years in prison.

ICJR Managing Director Erasmus Napitupulu cited the case of Zaadit Taqwa, the head of Universitas Indonesia’s student executive body, who flashed President Joko Widodo with a yellow card – as a symbolic criticism to the president – during a university event on Feb 2.

Under the bill, flashing the yellow card, which is used by referees to signal warnings against players in football matches, could result in Zaadit being prosecuted for insulting the president, Erasmus said.

In 2006, the Constitutional Court overturned similar articles in the existing KUHP because they had originated from lese majeste, the royal defamation law, and were incompatible with Indonesia’s efforts to be a democratic country where all citizens are equal.

“It is regrettable that the KUHP bill, which is intended to decolonialize the law, is going to reinstate a provision that could take us back to the colonial era. It will curb freedom of expression and goes against our constitution,” Erasmus said.

Justice and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly, a member of the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP), said the article that punishes insults of government leaders is not aimed at silencing criticism. Instead, it is necessary to prevent the country from becoming too liberal, he said.

In 2013, PDIP politicians strongly opposed a similar article in the bill, saying it would be a setback to democracy.

United Nations human rights chief, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, said criticizing government policies and demanding government accountability accelerates innovation and economic progress.

“Jailing critics does not make society safer. It drives legitimate and constructive opinions underground, and creates deep grievances,” Al Hussein said in his remarks at an event to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday.

“Dismantling the rule of law, and the basis of participatory democracy, generates injustice. These are measures that undermine the basis of peace and the soundness of development,” Al Hussein added.

The original story appeared in BenarNews

Indonesian parliament speaker urges law against “LGBT excesses”

Indonesia’s parliament speaker has called for legislation to curb “homosexual excesses,” as lawmakers and the government debate a revised criminal code that could make gay sex and sex outside marriage illegal.

In an opinion piece published in the Koran Sindo newspaper, House of Representatives speaker Bambang Soesatyo wrote that gay lifestyles have spawned “horrifying” excesses such as murders, HIV/AIDS and paedophilia.

“It is clear that legislation that focuses on curbing the lifestyles of the LGBT community is long overdue,” said Soesatyo, using the abbreviation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Soesatyo then listed several murder cases, including two serial killing cases, involving homosexuals in Indonesia in recent years.

Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, but Soesatyo is a politician from the secular and nationalist Golkar Party.

Homosexuality is not a crime in Indonesia, but members of the LGBT community have been under pressure following remarks and action by authorities targeting them.

Since last year, police have raided places frequented by gay people and briefly detained scores of them on suspicion of prostitution and pornographic acts.

In the opinion piece, Soesatyo also wrote that gay people often resorted to paedophilia “because of difficulty in finding partners,” citing recent cases of child rape.

“Their penetration into the lives of teenagers and children has been made possible by online social networks,” he said.

Soesatyo also said, without citing sources, that the gay population was estimated to be about 3 per cent of the country’s population, or about 7 million people.

“If these people actively promote their lifestyles, it will be very worrying,” he said.

“We urge the state to take firm action,” he said, adding that the House of Representatives was seeking to add more provisions to the draft revised criminal code to include those on LGBT activities.

Under the draft revisions to the criminal code, a person engaging in “a lewd act” with another person of the same sex who is under 18 years old could face 12 years in prison.

If the act involves violence, the penalty is up to 15 years, according to the draft.

It stipulates that a lewd act committed in public between two people of the same sex is punishable up to 18 months in prison.

The draft also says that sex between a man and a woman who are unmarried to each other is punishable by up to five years.

But it also stipulates that police can only pursue charges if a relative, such as a wife, a husband, a parent or a sibling makes a police complaint.

Human rights groups warn that the new criminal code, if passed as it is, would be a threat to the privacy of citizens and violate human rights.

More than 50,000 people have signed an online petition against the proposal.

“We call on the House of Representatives to remove provisions which could penalize women, victims of rape, children, those who did not register their marriages and the public in general,” the petition read.

Indonesia optimistic about WTO complaint against US penalties on its biodiesel

Indonesia is optimistic the World Trade Organization (WTO) will rule in its favor on its complaint against the US Department of Commerce’s policy to impose anti-subsidy duties on Indonesian biodiesel exports.

“We are filing a complaint to the WTO. We won a similar dispute against the European Union so it’s proven that we don’t practice dumping and subsidy,” Trade Ministry’s Director General of Foreign Trade Oke Nurwan said.

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A palm oil plantation in Riau. Indonesia’s biodiesel is made mainly from crude palm oil. Photo: The Parrot/Ismira Lutfia Tisnadibrata

In November, the US Department of Commerce imposed duties in the range of 34.45 – 64.73 percent to counter the alleged dumping of Indonesia’s biodiesel shipment.

Paulus Tjakrawan, vice chairman of Indonesia’s Biodiesel Producers Association said Indonesian biodiesel companies and the government have filed the case at the US Court of International Trade in New York ahead of the February 3 deadline.

“We think that their policy is incorrect,” Tjakrawan said.

“The government and industry players have agreed that it requires a joint effort to file the case,” Nurwan added.

Nurwan said the Indonesian government has also sent a letter of objection to the US commerce department but according to Zelda Kartika, director of American affairs at Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry, there has been no response to Indonesia’s objection.

The EU in 2013 had imposed 8.8 to 23.3 percent dumping margin on the commodity. Indonesia challenged the decision with the WTO in 2014 with and in January the WTO ruled in favor of six out of Indonesia’s seven points in the case.

According data from the Central Statistics Agency released by the Trade Ministry, EU’s anti-dumping policy had caused Indonesia’s biodiesel exports to decline by 42.84 percent to US$150 million in 2016 from $649 million in 2013, . Indonesia’s biodiesel export to the EU was at the lowest in 2015 at only US$68 million.

Nurwan said the WTO ruling can serve as a reference for all authorities conducting anti-dumping investigations to be consistent with WTO rules, notably during the investigation process.

“Our commitment is to secure markets for Indonesia’s exports to be able to compete in export destination countries’ markets, such as the EU. Meanwhile, for other countries’ investigation authorities, this case could serve as a evaluation material to be prudent when accusing Indonesia of practicing dumping, “ Nurwan said after the WTO made its decision.

Indonesia’s biodiesel is made mainly from crude palm oil. According to data from Indonesian Palm Oil Producers Association, the total palm oil export in 2017, including biodiesel, oleochemical and crude palm oil was 32,184 million tons, an increase from 26,573 million tons in the previous year.

Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said in her annual press statement on January 9 that Indonesia would continue the fight against negative campaign and discrimination of its palm oil in the EU and the US.

“Indonesia shall not stand by idly,” she told an audience of ambassadors in Jakarta.

The story first appeared in Arab News




West Java family live with dead relatives for two years

A woman and her two children lived with the corpses of her husband and a third child for two years in Indonesia’s West Java province, local media reported.

The discovery was made when a health worker came to the family’s house in Cimahi district on Tuesday to check on the husband, who had not been seen for more than two years, reported.

“[The widow] explained that they did not bury them because she had received a revelation from God through an angel that they would return to life,” local police chief Sutarman was quoted as saying.

The family initially refused to open the front door, but relented when the worker returned with a soldier and local officials, the news portal said.

Inside, authorities found two skeletal bodies, covered in blankets.

The remains belonged to a 84-year-old man and his daughter, 50. They were believed to have died of illness in January and December 2016, respectively, local police said.

Neighbours said they had smelled the stench for two years but the family had never allowed them to enter the house, the reports said.

Sutarman said autopsies were not conducted because there were no signs that they were the victims of violence. The woman and her two children would undergo psychiatric examinations, police said.

Police release transgender women after re-education

Police in Indonesia’s sharia-ruled province of Aceh said Tuesday they had released 12 transgender women after they agreed to act and dress as men.  Continue reading “Police release transgender women after re-education”