Category: Business

Ada cerita di balik MRT Jakarta

Tidak seperti kota-kota besar lainnya di dunia, Jakarta tidak punya daya tarik khusus yang bisa menjadikannya sebagai tujuan utama bagi para wisatawan asing. Kecuali ada agenda bisnis untuk dilakukan di Jakarta, banyak turis asing yang hanya sempat melihat bandara, sebelum pada akhirnya melanjutkan perjalanan ke kota lain di negara ini.

Kenapa begitu? salah satunya karena kemacetan lalu lintas Jakarta yang sangat terkenal, ditambah jaringan transportasi umum yang membingungkan dan kurang bisa diandalkan. Tidak heran jika hanya sedikit orang asing yang ingin menghabiskan waktunya di Jakarta.

Namun hal tersebut bisa jadi berubah seiring dengan peluncuran MRT pada bulan Maret ini. Sebuah sistem kereta cepat massal pertama yang kehadirannya sudah lama ditunggu-tunggu oleh banyak orang.

Saat dilakukan tes uji coba pada 30 Januari lalu, wartawan diberikan kesempatan untuk mencoba MRT dengan perjalanan bolak-balik antara bundaran Hotel Indonesia di Jakarta Pusat ke Lebak Bulus di Jakarta Selatan. Kereta berjalan tepat waktu selama 30 menit dengan pemberhentian selama 30 detik di stasiun bawah tanah dan stasiun atas yang keseluruhannya berjumlah total 13 stasiun.

“Kami melakukan pengujian dengan skenario keberangkatan terlambat di salah satu halte, serta bagaimana sistem bisa mengejar waktunya supaya semua jadwal kereta akhirnya bisa berjalan normal,” ujar Direktur Utama PT. MRT Jakarta, William Sabandar, dalam perjalanan tersebut.

Pada 25 Januari, pembangunan jalur MRT sudah selesai 99 persen dan perusahaan kemudian menjalankan pengujian secara terintegrasi. Delapan kereta dijalankan secara bersamaan dengan interval 10 menit untuk menguji ketepatan waktu operasi normal, juga untuk memastikan bahwa pintu platform bekerja sesuai dengan keberangkatan dan kedatangan kereta api.

Pada akhir Februari, perusahaan melakukan uji coba penuh bersama dengan simulasi untuk situasi darurat hingga 11 Maret. Uji coba tersebut terbuka untuk partisipasi publik terbatas, sebelum akhirnya layanan penuh perdana diluncurkan pada akhir bulan Maret.

Muhammad Kamaluddin, kepala strategi perusahaan MRT Jakarta mengatakan, selama operasi awal enam kereta latih yang dibangun oleh Nippon Sharyo dan Sumitomo Corp dari Jepang tersebut akan mampu mengangkut hingga maksimum 1.900 penumpang. Jam operasional MRT akan dimulai sejak 5.30 pagi setiap harinya, dengan keberangkatan dari kedua ujung jalur, serta keberangkatan terakhir sampai 10.30 malam.

Terdapat beberapa gerbong kereta yang didedikasikan khusus untuk penyandang disabilitas, dimana gerbong tersebut akan berhenti sangat dekat dengan lift di stasiun. Selain itu, juga akan ada petugas yang ditunjuk secara khusus untuk melayani penumpang wanita di jam-jam sibuk.

“Secara bertahap kita akan meningkatkan jumlah kereta menjadi 14. Kereta akan berjalan dengan kecepatan 30 kilometer per jam untuk perjalanan sejauh 16 kilometer,” tambah Kamaluddin.

Pengerjaan tahap kedua untuk memperluas jalur MRT ke bagian utara kota juga akan segera dimulai, dimana konstruksi diharapkan akan selesai pada 2024 dan operasionalnya akan dimulai pada 2025.

“Kami masih dalam persiapan. Peletakan batu pertama bisa berlangsung kapan saja, tetapi tidak ada yang menghambat atau menunda pembangunan fase kedua, semua berjalan sesuai rencana,” kata William Sabandar.

Fase kedua akan memperpanjang jalur dari bundaran hotel Indonesia ke Kampung Bandan di Jakarta Utara dan setelah selesai akan menjadi jalur lengkap yang terentang dari ujung selatan ke ujung utara Jakarta.

“Kami menetapkan target untuk menyelesaikan proyek tersebut dalam lima tahun,” kata Kamaluddin, sambil menambahkan bahwa delapan stasiun di jalur kedua akan berada di bawah tanah dan beberapa akan diintegrasikan dengan jaringan bus Transjakarta milik pemda DKI. Tapi pembangunan untuk tahap kedua tersebut akan menemui sedikit kesulitan karena harus melewati Monumen Nasional atau daerah Monas, yang disebut sebagai daerah ring satu di Jakarta Pusat, dimana istana presiden dan kantor-kantor pemerintahan berada.

Januar Wibisono, seorang pekerja yang berkantor di salah satu gedung di kawasan bisnis Sudirman-Thamrin di mana jalur MRT beroperasi di bawah tanah, mengatakan dia bersemangat untuk mencoba layanan ini dan berharap MRT akan membuat perjalanan hariannya dari sebuah lokasi di pinggiran selatan Jakarta jauh lebih mudah. ​​

“Gedung kantor saya berada di dekat stasiun Bendungan Hilir. Saya akan memarkir motor saya di dekat stasiun Lebak Bulus dan naik kereta dari sana. Jika total 30 menit hingga akhir jalur, saya perkirakan akan membutuhkan waktu 20 menit untuk sampai ke tujuan saya,” katanya.

Stasiun Bendungan Hilir adalah salah satu dari enam stasiun bawah tanah di area bisnis, yang dimulai dari stasiun Sisingamangaraja. PT MRT Jakarta menawarkan sponsorship untuk hak memberikan nama bagi setiap stasiun sesuai dengan nama asli stasiun, dalam upaya menghasilkan pendapatan diluar tarif. “Tapi stasiun Sisingamangaraja akan menjadi pengecualian. Stasiun itu akan diberi nama Sisingamangaraja Asean untuk menandai gedung Sekretariat Asean di dekat stasiun,” kata Sabandar.

Bersama dengan sistem light rail transit (LRT) yang diperkirakan akan mulai beroperasi tahun ini, diharapkan dapat menggeser orang dari pemakaian kendaraan pribadi ke transportasi umum, sehingga akhirnya dapat mengurangi kemacetan lalu lintas di Jakarta. Di beberapa lokasi, moda transportasi umum akan melintasi jalur stasiun terintegrasi, seperti stasiun Dukuh Atas di Jakarta Pusat, yang terintegrasi dengan kereta api bandara, kereta komuter, dan bus reguler, juga Transjakarta.

Jalan-jalan di Jakarta tersumbat melebihi kapasitas karena terjadi peningkatan pertumbuhan sepeda motor yang dipicu oleh mudahnya mendapatkan kredit motor serta hadirnya aplikasi ojek online. Menurut data dari Badan Perencanaan Pembangunan Nasional, kemacetan di Jabodetabek diperkirakan menyebabkan kerugian ekonomi sebesar 100 triliun rupiah per tahun.

Untuk mendukung peralihan ke MRT, pemerintah kota DKI juga telah memperbaiki trotoarnya yang tidak rata agar mendorong lebih banyak pejalan kaki dan memungkinkan penumpang yang keluar dari stasiun berjalan kaki ke tujuan mereka.

Jakarta juga dijuluki sebagai salah satu kota yang paling tidak ramah bagi pejalan kaki. Menurut hasil sebuah studi yang dilakukan oleh Universitas Stanford yang diterbitkan pada tahun 2017, orang Indonesia termasuk dalam kategori pejalan kaki paling malas di dunia dengan rata-rata 3.513 langkah setiap harinya, dibandingkan rata-rata di seluruh dunia, yaitu 5.000 langkah.

“Saya sudah menyerah nyetir mobil kalau bepergian sehari-hari sekitar 15 tahun yang lalu, karena saya benar-benar tidak tahan dengan kemacetan,” kata Rani Cahyawati, seorang karyawan yang bekerja di kantor dekat bundaran Hotel Indonesia.

“Setiap hari saya mengandalkan apa saja yang ada, baik itu bus kotor, bus tua, bus Transjakarta, taksi, atau ojek. Jadi, saya benar-benar menantikan MRT dan LRT untuk beroperasi. Sudah waktunya bagi Jakarta untuk dimodernisasi dan lebih beradab bagi masyarakat dan pengunjungnya,” tambahnya.

*Pertama kali diterbitkan dalam versi bahasa Inggris di Bangkok Post

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Indonesia threatens retaliation over EU palm oil ‘intimidation’

Biofuel producers in Indonesia called on the Indonesian government and European Union to find a “win-win solution” to a dispute over an EU legislation that will phase out palm oil-based biofuel manufacturing in the bloc, risking jobs and billions of dollars in Indonesia’s revenue.

Last week, Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, warned that if the EU implements a ban on palm oil imports, Indonesia would retaliate strongly with possible bans on European products, including passengers jets, train coaches, and motor vehicles.

“We want a win-win solution. Retaliation is not a favorable option but, eventually, what else can we do? It could become necessary if we keep being intimidated,” said Master Parulian Tumanggor, chairman of the Indonesia’s Biodiesel Producers Association.

“If they stop biofuel, millions (of workers and farmers) will become unemployed. We don’t want that,” he added.

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Pandjaitan said that with Indonesia’s aviation industry expected to expand threefold by 2034, the country will require about 2,500 aircraft in the next two decades — a big market for European companies.

Aircraft demand from Indonesia is worth more than $40 billion and it will create millions of jobs.

“It’s a matter of survival. If they treat us like this, we will retaliate strongly. We are not a poor country, we are a developing country and we have a big potential,” Pandjaitan said in a briefing with the EU ambassador to Indonesia, Vincent Guerend, and European investors.

Darmin Nasution, chief economic minister, said Indonesia is considering a challenge to the EU legislation via the World Trade Organization, and will seek support from the Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Indonesia and Malaysia together produce about 85 percent of the world’s palm oil.

Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi spoke with her Malaysian counterpart, Saifuddin Abdullah, on the sidelines of Organization of Islamic Cooperation emergency meeting in Istanbul on Friday.

“We agreed to work together to fight against discrimination of palm oil in the EU,” she said via Twitter.

Nasution said palm oil contributed $17.89 billion to Indonesia’s economy in 2018 and almost 20 million workers depended on the plantations for their livelihood.

On March 13 the European Commission adopted new rules on biofuels based on sustainability criteria with a two-month scrutiny period. The EU said “best available scientific data” show palm oil plantations are a major cause of deforestation and climate change.

Palm oil plantations in Indonesia have resulted in massive deforestation on the islands of Sumatra and Kalimantan.

Guerend acknowledged the importance of palm oil to Indonesia in terms of jobs, but said that there was some flexibility in the regulation.

“It will be further modified in a few years’ time. It’s not cast in stone forever as the industry is dynamic, expanding, and reforming, and we take that into account,” he said.

“Our invitation for everyone is to work on sustainability because it’s in everybody’s interest,” he added.

This story was first published on Arab News

Garuda Indonesia cancels order for 49 Boeing 737 Max 8s

Indonesian national carrier Garuda has requested to cancel an order for 49 Boeing 737 MAX 8 passenger jets following recent deadly crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia involving the same type of aircraft, the company said Friday.

Garuda has sent a letter to Boeing requesting the cancellation, said Garuda spokesman Ikhsan Rosan. 

“Our passengers have low confidence in the aircraft since the accidents and avoided using the MAX 8,” he said, referring to the Lion Air crash on October 29 and the Ethiopian Airlines crash on March 10. 

Garuda currently has one Boeing 737 Max 8 jet in its fleet. 

Ikhsan said a Boeing team was expected in Jakarta on March 28 to discuss the matter. 

“It is possible that we’ll opt to order a different model of Boeing aircraft,” he said. 

Lion Air, Indonesia’s largest budget airline, has 10 Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft.  

All Boeing 737 Max 8 planes operating in Indonesia have been grounded by the Transportation Ministry pending inspections. 

A Lion Air Boeing 737 Max 8 plane plummeted into the sea 13 minutes after taking off from Jakarta’s international airport on October 29, killing all 189 people on board. 

A preliminary report on the accident released in November revealed that the pilots of the doomed flight tried to pull the aircraft back up repeatedly as the aircraft’s automatic nose-down manoeuvre was activated. 

On March 10, a Boeing 737 Max 8 operated by Ethiopian Airlines crashed minutes after taking off, killing all 157 people on board.

Ethiopian Transport Minister Dagmawit Moges said Sunday there were “clear similarities” between the Ethiopian Airlines crash and the Lion Air crash.

Indonesia’s HIV medication muddle

HIV patients in Indonesia have been forced to adjust their daily medication routine because of problems with the government’s medication procurement program.

They are now taking single-dose medication twice a day for their antiretroviral (ARV) therapy regime, as the country is facing a scarcity of the fixed-dose combination medication in one tablet that only needs to be taken once a day.

The ordeal began when a tender from the health ministry to procure the drugs in 2018 failed twice because of agreements over pricing issue, according to Indonesia AIDS Coalition (IAC), a non governmental organization.

The limited tender process, which only involved two state-owned pharmaceutical companies, became deadlocked, and as a result the available supplies in inventory ran out last year.

Selvin Pancarina, a HIV/AIDS activist based in Surabaya, East Java, said she had to switch to the single-dose medication two months ago after using the fixed-dose combination ARV medication that contains tenofovir, lamivudine and efavirenz (FDC TLE) since 2012.

Even though supplies of the single dose drugs remain steady and she continues the medication, she admitted that it has not been easy to switch her routine after six years taking medication just once a day before she goes to bed.

“I have to be more disciplined with the new regime, by taking them in the afternoons and the evenings,” she said. “Sometimes I forget to take the afternoon medication, not to mention that each drug is said to have side effects if taken separately and there are contradictions to certain foods, so we have to be stricter in our diet and really pay attention to what we eat before we take the drugs.”

“One of the drugs we take separately is said to cause a side effect on the kidneys if we don’t take it with a lot of water. So, we keep wondering if the water we are drinking with the drugs is ever enough,” she added.

Selvin said members of her organization, Ikatan Perempuan Positif Indonesia (IPPI) or Association of Positive Women Indonesia had also experienced discomfort and irregularities in their daily routines after switching from fixed-dose to single-dose medications.  “The effect of single-dose medication is different in every patient. Some really have a hard time adjusting, some even experience hallucination or insomnia. They can’t sleep well at night and it causes them to feel dizzy and exhausted the next day,” she said.

The ARV medication is fully subsidized by the government and available to HIV patients at 895 distribution points such as hospitals and healthcare centers in all 34 provinces. In 2017, the government allocated about 800 billion rupiah for the medication.

Aditya Wardhana, the IAC executive director, said that changing medication to single doses poses risks that some of the drugs may not be available at the same time for every patient. As well, there are some patients that can only take two drugs instead of all three, resulting in sub-optimal treatment.

He added that although the fixed-dose combination drugs are still available, they are now in very limited supply, which constitutes an “emergency”.

“The safe benchmark to ensure drugs availability is for there tobe enough supply for at least six months at the national and regional levels. Now, it’s only available for less than one month at the national level and three months at the regional level,” he said.

Even though a tender for drug procurement is being processed, it will be a while before the drugs are available again.

“If the process goes well and no glitches in the process, we can have the stock back to normal by June,” he said.

The health ministry has reassured patients that the ARV medication supplies will be in adequate quantities for the rest of the year.

“The procurement tender for next year’s supply of fixed-dose combination is being processed,” ministry spokeswoman Widyawati said.

The ministry’s pharmaceutical and medical devices director general, Engko Sosialine Magdalene, said the availability of ARV supply has taken into account the average growth in the number of patients by about 1-3% per month.

She also said the ministry had taken steps to ensure the drugs are available by receiving a grant to import 222,000 bottles of fixed-dose ARV medication in December last year from the Global Fund, a financing group that fights AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Each bottle contains 30 tablets.

”These 222,000 bottles are enough to meet patients’ needs for the next five to six months,” she said, adding that the ministry has also prepared 564,000 bottles of ARV medication by the end of 2019 and that the government continues to provide and allocate spending to procure ARV medication.

HIV/AIDS case in Indonesia was first found in Bali in 1987. According to health ministry data, the number of HIV patients in the country as of October 2018 was 305,000, and 107,000 of them were on medication.

According to UNAIDS, the key populations in Indonesia that are most affected by HIV are sex workers, with a HIV prevalence of 5.3%, gay men and other men who have sex with men, with an HIV prevalence of 25.8%, people who inject drugs (28.76%), transgender people (24.8%), and prisoners (2.6%). New HIV infections have decreased by 22% and AIDS-related deaths have increased by 68% since 2010.

Wardhana of IAC said without the ARV medication, it would be hard for HIV patients to maintain their stamina at the same level as the non-HIV people.

“Their health condition can deteriorate. About 95% of people with HIV/AIDS died because they failed to take the medication,” he said.

“By taking the medication regularly, HIV patients can live normally and have the same life expectancy as the non-HIV people.”

This story was first published on Bangkok Post

Jakarta’s zero tariff move to lift Palestinian imports

The Indonesian market could be a testing ground for Palestinian exports’ competitiveness following the introduction of a zero tariff policy.

An agreement with Indonesia on import tariff waivers for Palestinian products came into effect in mid-February after 2.5 years since the idea was floated in Oct 2016.

The initial waiver will apply to fresh and dried dates, and virgin olive oil. Palestine has asked for about 20 export products to be included in the policy.

Tariffs previously were set at 5 percent.

Djatmiko Bris Witjaksono, director of foreign trade analysis and trade center at the Ministry of Trade, said the agreement offers preferential treatment for Palestinian imports, but it will be up to the business community to show its willingness to buy the products.

“Palestine may have to compete with similar products imported from other countries. If the supply and product continuity is reliable, importers will eventually buy from them,” he said.

“The tariff exemption is significant and should be reflected in the products’ pricing in the market. Eventually it will boost the competitiveness of Palestinian products in Indonesia.” Witjaksono said.

Shinta Widjaja Kamdani, vice chairwoman of international relations at the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the zero tariff policy will boost trade between the two countries.

“Now we have to look at the market opportunity to identify the goods from Indonesia we can export and vice versa. It looks like there is a market there for our food and beverage products,” she said.

Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita said the elimination of Indonesian tariffs on Palestinian dates and olive oil began on Feb. 21, when Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry sent a diplomatic note to Palestine.

Zuhair Al-Shun, Palestine’s ambassador to Indonesia, was also told about the tariff move in a meeting with Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla on Feb. 28.

“We hope we will be able to enjoy Palestinian dates in the upcoming Ramadan,” Lukita said in a joint press conference with Palestinian Ambassador to Indonesia Zuhair Al-Shun after meeting the vice president on Feb. 28.

Both countries are considering expanding the policy to create a preferential trading agreement, the trade minister said.

Al-Shun said Palestine has provided a list of products to be considered for preferential treatment by Indonesia.

“The list is being reviewed by the Indonesian government. We also welcome Indonesian products that will be exported to Palestine,” Al-Shun said.

Lukita said the trade agreement is part of Indonesia’s unwavering support for Palestine.

Trade between Indonesia and Palestine was worth $3.5 million in 2018. Indonesian exports to Palestine include coffee, tea, bread and other foodstuffs, while dates and olive oil make up the bulk of its imports.

According to data from Statistics Indonesia, trade between Indonesia and Palestine reached US$3.5 million in 2018. The zero tariff policy is expected to boost date imports by 11.62 percent within a year.

Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, AM Fachir said the idea to provide preferential treatment for Palestinian products was first floated by members of Palestinian trade delegation attending an international trade expo in Jakarta in Oct 2016.

Lukita and his Palestinian counterpart formalized the idea in a memorandum of understanding (MoU) they signed on the sidelines of the 11th World Trade Organization (WTO) ministerial conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina in Dec 2017, during which Indonesia also endorsed Palestine to be a WTO member.

The MoU was then ratified in Indonesia into a presidential regulation in April 2018, followed by Lukita and Al Shun signing the formal agreement in Jakarta in Aug 2018.

Ministry of Finance then issued two ministerial regulations — on import tariff waivers for Palestinian products and on the technical direction for customs offices to execute the policy.

Issuing the two regulations was the last phase along Indonesia’s legislation process to allow the full implementation of the agreement since they will be circulated to all ports of entry so that customs officers can identify products from Palestine and exempt them from any import duties.

Read the original story here in Arab News

Paws up: Indonesian government to ban dog and cat meat trade

Fien Harini, who hails from Solo in Central Java, still remembers when Ireng, her mongrel pet dog, disappeared and never returned home.

“I cried for days. In Solo, when a pet dog doesn’t return home, you can be sure the dog is stolen to be slaughtered for meat and will end up in one of those dog meat satay stalls,” she said.

“Dog meat dishes purported to boost virility and have healing qualities are popular delicacies in Solo. But there is not enough supply so pet dogs, especially mongrels, are highly targeted by poachers,” she added.

In Jakarta, meat derived from dogs is served in dishes offered by specialty eateries called lapo. Customers can identify such establishment if they see the number B1 – a code for dog meat – on the signage.

The trade of dog and cat meat remains rampant in some parts of Indonesia, where dog meat dishes are traditional delicacies for some ethnic and cultural groups. However, dog and cat meat are not included among consumable meat products regulated by the country’s food law.

Roughly 7% of Indonesia’s 260 million population consume dog meat, according to an estimate drawn by the Dog Meat Free Indonesia (DMFI) coalition, which has investigated the illegal trade. It is campaigning to abolish dog meat trade, end animal cruelty, promote animal welfare and halt the spread of zoonotic diseases.

Its effort appears to be gaining ground, as the government has said it plans to issue a regulation that will ban dog meat and other meat derived from cats and exotic animals.

A national forum on animal welfare held in Jakarta earlier this month agreed that dog meat is not for human consumption and its commercial distribution should be banned.

Syamsul Ma’arif, director of veterinary public health at the agriculture ministry, said a ministerial regulation to that effect was in the pipeline

“The regulation will emphasise on banning practices that are violations of animal welfare. It will not regulate consumption so much for those whose culture that recognize it,” Ma’arif said.

He added that it would take some time to finalize the regulation since it will have to accommodate many interests, but he expects the ministry to issue it within this year.

DMFI representatives who attended the forum played a video made during their country-wide investigation into the cruelty behind the dog meat trade, which shows just how bad the dogs are treated.

Ma’arif acknowledged the way dogs are handled in the trade amounts to “torture.” He also said the government clearly forbids consumption of dog meat.

He told officials of veterinary and livestock agencies attending the forum that animal cruelty and the risk of zoonotic disease outbreaks from the illegal meat trade could drive animal rights-conscious foreign tourists away from their regions if they continue to allow this practice.

This could be detrimental to the government’s efforts to lure more foreign tourists to improve state revenue.

The prospect of a government crackdown was hailed by DMFI, which comprises local and international animal rights groups including Animal Friends Jogja (AFJ), Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN), Four Paws, Change for Animals Foundation and Humane Society International.

“This is a huge leap for animal welfare in Indonesia. We really appreciate that government has finally acknowledged our concerns,” AFJ director Bobby Fernando said.

JAAN co-founder Karin Franken said it was high time that the trade was abolished since its existence undermines the government’s pledge to eliminate fatal zoonotic diseases such as rabies by 2020.

While Jakarta has been declared rabies-free, the disease is endemic in 25 out of Indonesia’s 34 provinces.

She said however, there is a steady supply of dog meat to lapos in the capital city. They source the meat from a supplier who goes twice a week to catch stray dogs and kidnap pets in neighboring towns in West Java.

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Photo: Dog Meat Free Indonesia (DMFI)

As the meat trade is illegal, the whole process of preparing dog meat dishes in those restaurants goes unchecked without proper health screening, slaughter process and carcass disposal.

“The supplier can bring 30 to 40 dogs per trip into Jakarta. This could put the city on the risk of rabies outbreak,” she said.

A dog meat supplier in East Jakarta who goes only by one name, Yuri, said he priced dog meat by the kilogramme. He declined to say what he charged but said that it was competitive prices quoted by another supplier in Central Jakarta.

Wiwiek Bagja, a senior veterinarian and former chairwoman of the Indonesian Veterinary Association, said the government should stress to regional governments that they have an obligation to enforce national legislation on animal welfare.

Despite the absence of specific regulation banning inter-regional dog meat distribution, she said local administrations should strictly supervise such movement to curb the spread of zoonotic diseases.

“Unstipulated and unspecified movement of dogs is proven to have contaminated rabies-free regions,” she said.

“There is a much bigger risk of zoonosis epidemic compared to the mythical benefits of eating dog meat. We can’t let the interest of a small fraction of people to spoil the country,” she added.

Dog meat consumer Kristian Purnomo opposes the pending regulation, saying dog meat dishes are a long-standing tradition and part of Indonesia’s diverse cultures that should not be abolished.

He eats dog meat dishes, which he says warms his body and have softer texture. He also consumes other exotic foods such as snake meat from time to time, especially when he travels to regions where they are part of the local diet.

“We just have to be discreet about it. I understand that people object to it because dogs are cute and cuddly pets and are not livestock. I love dogs and have a pet dog, too,” he said. 

“But what about chicken, cows, and other livestock? Will people campaign against eating them when someday they are not categorised as livestock and considered as cute pets?” Purnomo said, adding that to him a dog meat dish when served is just like any other dish from chicken or cattle.

The campaign against dog meat consumption, he said, could undermine deeply rooted local traditions, citing efforts by one NGO to abolish centuries-old traditional whaling in Lamalera, a coastal village in Lembata Island in East Nusa Tenggara province.

The island’s land is mainly vast savanna and not suitable for farming, so villagers have turned to the sea for subsistence. Whaling there is steeped in a set of customary rules, such as a restriction on hunting pregnant whales.

“Let’s just appreciate it with discretion accordingly as a local tradition,” he added.

This story was first published in Bangkok Post

Indonesia to allow tariff-free import of Palestinian dates, olive oil

Indonesia and Palestine have signed an agreement that will allow for zero tariffs on some Palestinian goods imported into Indonesia from next month.

The agreement serves as the implementing guidelines that follows the Memorandum of Understanding signed by Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita and his Palestinian counterpart on the sidelines of the 11th World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina, last December. The MoU allows zero import tariffs for certain goods between the two countries.

“It will be one-way trade from Palestine to Indonesia at the start, but we expect in the future it will be a two-way trade,” the Trade Ministry’s Director General for International Trade Negotiations Iman Pambagyo said.

The initial Palestinian products that will be exempted from import tariffs are fresh and dried dates and virgin olive oil. Pambagyo said that, during the first year of the agreement, dates imported from Palestine are estimated to increase by 11.62 percent, while olive oil is estimated to jump by 172 percent, as a lot of Indonesian cosmetic manufacturers use olive oil as an ingredient in their products.

“We will encourage our importers to benefit from this policy by sourcing their olive oil and dates from Palestine,” Pambagyo added.

Fachry Thaib, head of the Middle East Committee at the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce, said the business community welcomed the agreement and its upcoming implementation.

“We have always encouraged the government to expedite the MoU implementation. This policy would be beneficial for importers since it would make the products more competitive in the domestic market,” he said.

He added the policy will not hit other imported goods, given the big market opportunities for dates, which are widely consumed by Indonesians.

Lukita and Palestinian Ambassador to Indonesia Zuhair Al-Shun signed the agreement on Monday following the ratification of the MoU into a presidential regulation in April.

The finance minister will allow the MoU to fully take effect by issuing two ministerial regulations — on import tariff waivers for Palestinian products and on the technical direction for customs offices to execute the policy.

Pambagyo said these regulations will be circulated to all ports of entry so that customs officers can identify products from Palestine and exempt them from any import duties.

Lukita said this policy was part of Indonesia’s unwavering support for the Palestinian issue, which has always been the focus of its foreign policy.

Indonesia has been a staunch supporter of Palestinian independence and has pledged to focus on voicing support for Palestine during its tenure as a non-permanent member at the UN Security Council in 2019-2020.

Read the full story in Arab News