Category: Diplomacy

Queen Silvia highlights Indonesia-Sweden sustainable fashion cooperation

Queen Silvia of Sweden drew on a batik pattern during her visit to Jakarta Creative Hub on 23 May, 2017. Photo: The Parrot/Ismira Lutfia Tisnadibrata

Indonesia’s up-and-coming fashion designers have a lot to learn from their Swedish counterparts in practising sustainable fashion if they want to make their marks in the global fashion industry.

Lenny Tedja, the director of annual fashion showcase Jakarta Fashion Week (JFW), said since sustainable fashion was introduced here about three years ago, JFW has been encouraging young designers that JFW grooms to practise it in their production.

“We are still at the beginning of sustainable fashion practices, but we are going there. If these young designers want to go international, they have to pay more attention to sustainable fashion,” she said, adding that they could start by using materials that are eco-friendly, paying their workers in accordance to the minimum wage requirement, providing a humane workplace, to exercising better waste management.

JFW turned to Sweden, through its embassy in Jakarta, to learn more about the practise since the Swedes are very much advanced in producing sustainable fashion, Lenny said.

This cooperation was highlighted during Swedish Queen Silvia’s recent visit to Jakarta Creative Hub in Central Jakarta.

The queen was welcomed by Happy Farida Djarot, the wife of acting Jakarta governor Djarot Syaiful Hidayat and Svida Alisjahbana, the chief executive of Femina Group, who both then accompanied Silvia to browse through the display of products made by small and medium enterpreneurs, including handicrafts and fashion items made from recycled material of used hotel bed sheets produced by housewives who live in North Jakarta’s Marunda housing blocks.

Silvia also took a few minutes to draw on a traditional Jakarta batik pattern.

The queen said it was really inspiring to see the works of Indonesian designers displayed at the co-working space, which included elements of sustainable practices in their production.

“Like Indonesia, Sweden has a rich traditional culture in design,” Silvia said.

“We have a lot to learn from each other,” she added.

Svida said having the queen in the hub marked a symbol to Indonesia-Sweden cooperation in sustainable fashion.

“Being eco-friendly is what we strive to do and we would very much like to learn from Sweden,” Svida said.

The visit to Jakarta Creative Hub was part of the first-ever state visit of Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia to Indonesia on 22-24 May 2017. The royal couple’s three-city visit to Jakarta, Bogor and Bandung focused on trade, sustainability, research and innovation and it was aimed to strengthen the political, economic and cultural relations between Sweden and Indonesia.

Fighting foreign poachers

It was no April Fool’s Day joke when on April 1 Indonesia’s Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries sent in whole and in pieces 81 illegal fishing boats to the bottom of the sea simultaneously at 12 locations across the country.

The Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister, Susi Pudjiastuti, in another show of force to reassert her ministry’s tough stance to combat illegal fishing, led the sinking and blowing up of the vessels, 75 of which were foreign, from Ambon province which is close to the Arafura Sea on the eastern part of the country.

“This is to tell the people, that there was a time when thousands of foreign vessels came to steal our fish and now they know that Indonesia can actually combat such a crime,” she said in a statement after leading the operation that stretched to the Natuna Islands on Indonesia’s northernmost maritime frontier and borders the South China Sea, where most of the ships – 29 – were destroyed.

WhatsApp Image 2017-04-01 at 19.47.08
Photo: Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry/Didik Heriyanto

The Natuna Sea and the Arafura Sea are both fertile fishing grounds and often infested with illegal fishing boats.

Yunus Husein, the deputy head of Task Force 115, which was set up to combat illegal fishing, said the eastern waters of Indonesia is still prone to risks of illegal fishing and by choosing to lead the operation from Ambon, the ministry wanted to reaffirm that illegal fishing should no longer happen in the Arafura Sea. It also aimed to show support to the Indonesian Navy’s Eastern Fleet and other law enforcement agencies in the eastern region to take firm measures in deterring poachers.

“We hope Sino serves as a symbol of our victory against fish plunderer, after years of defeat, especially in eastern Indonesia,” Susi said, referring to the name of the two ships, Sino 26 and Sino 35 that were sunk in Tihlepuai waters off Morella village in Ambon.

The ships’ names indicated a relation to China, and Yunus said the Indonesian-flagged ships were owned by an Indonesian company with a Chinese investor.

To date, Indonesia has sunk 317 illegal fishing vessels since October 2014 and most of them were from neighboring Southeast Asian countries.

Since January to March 21, the ministry’s patrol boats have apprehended 40 illegal fishing boats, which included 36 boats from Vietnam while the rest were from The Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Poaching fish in Indonesia’s waters is a crime punishable by maximum six years in prison and a maximum fine of 20 billion rupiah.

“Illegal fishing is rampant in Indonesian waters because we have not been able to tap this potential resource,” said Akhmad Solihin, a lecturer at Bogor Agricultural University’s School of Fisheries and Maritime Sciences.

While he agrees that blowing up illegal boats could create a deterrent effect to poachers, he urged the government to improve the investigation procedures for foreign boats to ensure that the legal process is conducted fairly and especially to provide proper translators for foreign seamen.

“I think the best solution to combat illegal fishing is by forging bilateral relations with fishing poachers’ countries of origin, to form agreement that those countries’ government could prosecute the fishing companies or fishing boats’ owners to pay compensation to Indonesia for poaching in our waters,” Akhmad said.

Meanwhile, Abdul Halim, the director for Jakarta-based advocacy group Maritime Studies Center for Humanity, said that while Susi seemed to be gaining grounds in combatting foreign poachers, local fishermen were not able to yield much from the abundant fishing resources.

This is due to due to a ministerial regulation that prohibits the use of trawling nets and dragnet fishing and bombs that damage coral reefs within Indonesian waters.

“There is no solution on what the fishermen can use to catch fish in place of the prohibited nets,” Abdul said.

Viva Yoga Mauladi, a lawmaker from a House of Representatives’ commission that oversees maritime affairs called on the government to review the regulation due to widespread refusal from various fishing community. In place of the prohibited nets, the regulation stipulates that fishermen can only use the ecosystem-friendly gill net.

After visiting a coastal community in Lamongan, East Java on March 31, he said that fishermen in Lamongan refused to use the recommended gill net.

“They have been using trawling nets and dragnet fish for a long time and they don’t want to use the gill net as it only incurs losses for them,” Viva said.


Indonesia upbeat on prospect of Trump’s presidency

Deputy House Speaker Fadli Zon gave his insights during a TV interview on Trump presidency. Photo: Twitter @fadlizon

Donald Trump’s triumph in the US presidential election is expected to have both positive and negative impacts on Asia, and Indonesia in particular  Continue reading “Indonesia upbeat on prospect of Trump’s presidency”

Indonesians faking as Philippine pilgrims face scrutiny upon arrival

Indonesian pilgrims returning from Mecca are soon arriving in the country and celebrating their new status as Hajji, but many have seen their wishes to bear the venerable title shattered or may face questions on the validity of their pilgrimage after they resorted to go on the pilgrimage illegally, including posing as Philippine citizens.

The Indonesians faking their identities as Filipinos are expected to be among the first three batches of 1,049 pilgrims that the Philippine authorities and an Indonesian technical assistance team will scrutinize as they arrive in Manila on Monday.

The Indonesian team, comprised of immigration, religious ministry and police officials, would help to expedite deportation of Indonesian citizens who might be found among those arriving, after the Philippines authorities suspected hundreds of the arrivals could be Indonesians and Malaysians, who were using Philippine hajj passports.

“We would assist to verify their identities and determine if they are really Indonesian citizens, because their names and identities are being withheld by the Philippine immigration office,” Heru Santoso, a spokesman for the immigration office said.

The team was sent after the Foreign Ministry last week dispatched a special team to Manila. Lalu Muhammad Iqbal, the ministry’s director for the protection of Indonesian nationals and entities abroad who led the team said they held a series of meeting on Wednesday with a task force set up by the Philippine government to deal with the illegal hajj case.

“The meeting agreed on the flow of handling the pilgrims when they arrive in Manila. We expect the flow would ensure that the pilgrims could be deported as soon as possible,” Lalu said in a statement on Thursday.

The first in a string of hajj scams involving Indonesians emerged from the Philippines on Aug 18 when immigration officials at Ninoy Aquino International Airport arrested 177 Indonesians who were about to board their flights to Saudi Arabia. The officials became suspicious when none of them could speak any Filipino dialects despite listing Jolo in the southern Philippines as their addresses. It turned out they were Indonesians using legally obtained Philippine hajj passports but with fake identities and they were going to leave using Philippine’s unused hajj quota.

Further investigation to the case revealed that there could be up to 700 Indonesians that went on the pilgrimage posing as Filipino pilgrims, though many of them could also be Malaysians. In addition, another group of 229 Indonesians, comprised of 155 women, 59 men and 15 minors were detained by the Saudi authorities. They were arrested in two different locations for overstaying and not having the proper hajj permits.

The government has maintained since then that they are victims of hajj scams involving a syndicate in Indonesia and the Philippines, which exploited Muslims eager to skip the lengthy waiting list that could extend as far as 2055 and would go at any length to secure a spot to go to Mecca. President Joko Widodo and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte reaffirmed this view when the latter visited Jakarta on Sep 9.

A majority of the 177 Indonesians arrested in Manila – half of them were from South Sulawesi – have returned, while nine of them stayed behind for investigation purposes.

Indonesian Muslim Intellectuals Association (ICMI) secretary general, Muhammad Jafar Hafsah urged the government to improve its hajj management and impose stricter evaluation on the annual event.

Jafar said in a statement that it has become normal for many Indonesian pilgrims to register to go on hajj through other countries.

“There are also hajj travel operators that use fake visas from other countries. This is a work of mafia and a very serious crime. How could they manipulate this religious ritual to be an illegal trip implicating other countries,” Jafar said.

Cleric says pilgrims’ safety is paramount as Indonesia bids for more hajj quota

Indonesia is seeking ways to have more hajj quota next year in a bid to shorten its aspiring pilgrims’ waiting list that extends for decades and to avoid further embarrassment after hundreds of its citizens were found to have performed the mandatory religious ritual illegally this year, including posing as pilgrims from another country.

But Yahya Cholil Staquf, a top cleric from Indonesia’s largest Muslim organization Nahdlatul Ulama said there is more to the pilgrimage woes than getting more quota allocation.

“What is important is not to have more pilgrims but to ensure their security during the pilgrimage,” Yahya said, adding that the quota allocation is basically set to ensure a safe and comfortable pilgrimage.

He also urged the government to issue a regulation about senior citizens of 60 years old and above who have not had the chance to perform the hajj.

“We need to make their departure a priority so they can go on the pilgrimage as soon as possible with a management and services that cater to their needs,” Yahya said.

Indonesian Muslim Intellectuals Association (ICMI) secretary general, Muhammad Jafar Hafsah said in a statement that the government needs to improve its hajj management and impose stricter evaluation on the annual event.

“There is a high demand and people can afford to go but they can’t due to limited quota. Even if they could finally go, they would be too old or probably already die by then,” he said.

Religious Ministry inspector general, M. Jasin said the religious affairs ministry has been beefing up efforts to lobby the Saudi government since last year to have the quota for Indonesia reinstated to its normal 211,000.

“We are confident that in 2017 our quota will be back to normal,” Jasin said.

The quota is allocated based on one per 1,000 out of each country’s Muslim population. Indonesia has been dealing with quota woes for the past three years after the Saudi government lowered quota for hajj-sending countries to make room for the renovation of Grand Mosque in Mecca. This year, Indonesia had 168,000 quota, a further reduction from last year’s 178,000 and the quotas were from far enough to accommodate Muslims who aspire to perform the annual ritual.

Jasin added that he is optimistic Indonesia could have more quota of about 240,000 or one percent out of its total population, considering that the holy mosque would have bigger capacity to accommodate more pilgrims after the renovation is finished.

Religious affairs ministry data showed that aspiring pilgrims have to wait 10 years at best to go to Mecca while those in some regions in Sulawesi have to wait the longest extending to 2054 and 2055.

The Philippine authorities found earlier this month that up to 700 foreigners, most of them believed to Indonesians and Malaysians, had gone on the pilgrimage posing as Philippine citizens. Last month, immigration officials at Ninoy Aquino International Airport arrested 177 Indonesian pilgrims who were posing as Philippine citizens as they  were about to board their flights to Saudi Arabia, while another group of 229 Indonesians were detained by the Saudi authorities earlier this month for overstaying their visas and not having the proper hajj permits.

President Joko Widodo has also sought ways for Indonesia to use other countries’ unused hajj quota. Joko mentioned about this possibility to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte during their meeting in Jakarta on Sep 9, as well as to Saudi Arabian Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, who is also the second deputy prime minister and defense minister, when they met on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hangzhou, China earlier this month.

Joko said that both leaders agreed to Indonesia’s proposal but it would take further detailed calculation and procedure before the plan could actually work, while Duterte also agreed to amicably resolve the matter regarding the Indonesian pilgrims using Philippine passports.

“We would finalise this when King Salman visits Indonesia in October. Hopefully by that time we would know the additional figure for Indonesia’s quota and the possibility to use other countries’ unused quota,” Joko told journalists in Serang, Banten province on Sep 11.

Jasin said Saudi Arabia has to issue a new regulation about using other countries’ quota first before allowing Indonesia to bilaterally seek the countries’ approval to use their unused quotas.

The hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and is mandatory ritual for adult Muslims who are financially and physically able to do it for at least once in a lifetime. This year, hajj pilgrims in Indonesia had to pay Rp 34,641,000 per person to go on the pilgrimage.

Repeated hajj is also another cause to the lengthy waiting list. The Indonesian Council of Ulemma (MUI) issued a fatwa in 1984 that says once is enough to go on the pilgrimage but many have repeated the ritual multiple times. The fatwa was issued in consideration that others who have not had the chance to go could use the spots in the hajj quota.

In May 2015, the religious affairs ministry issued a ministerial regulation that impose a ten-year gap since the last hajj departure for those who want to do it again.








Jokowi says he gets Duterte’s Mary Jane remarks right

President Joko Widodo said Tuesday he had not misinterpreted Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s remarks that Indonesia can go on with the execution of Mary Jane Veloso, a Philippine woman on death row in Indonesia.

He reaffirmed his position a day after Manila denied that Duterte told Jokowi to proceed with the execution of Mary Jane, a former migrant worker who was sentenced to death for trafficking drugs into Indonesia.

“Presiden Duterte has said please proceed in accordance with the laws in Indonesia. The meaning is clear just like I said [on Monday],” Jokowi said, according to the cabinet secretary’s website.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto R. Yasay said in a statement on Monday that Duterte only told Jokowi he respects Indonesia’s judicial processes and will accept whatever the final decision Indonesia will have regarding Mary Jane’s case. Yasay also said that Mary Jane’s execution has been indefinitely deferred.

The statement was issued in response to Jokowi’s statement earlier in the day that Duterte had given the nod to Indonesia to execute Mary Jane.

Duterte met with Jokowi last week on a state visit in Jakarta. Jokowi said during their meeting, he had told his Philippine counterpart about the case of Mary Jane, a former migrant worker and Duterte responded to go ahead with the execution.

Mary Jane had been caught carrying 2.6 kilograms of heroin when she was arrested at Yogyakarta’s Adisucipto airport in April 2010. She was sentenced to death in October the same year.

Mary Jane was spared from the April 29, 2015 execution at the eleventh hour after the Philippines authorities arrested Maria Cristina Sergio, her alleged recruiter who had tricked her into carrying drugs to Indonesia.

Attorney General spokesman Muhammad Rum said Mary Jane’s execution remains postponed pending the legal process of Maria Cristina, to whom she would testify against.

“We continue to coordinate with the Philippine authorities as the case is ongoing and is yet to reach a verdict,” Rum said.

Jokowi and Duterte’s spat rubbishing one another’s statement drew criticism from migrant workers’ communities in Indonesia and the Philippines. The two countries are major migrant-worker sending countries and migrant workers from both countries, most of whom are females, have often fell into trafficking in persons or tricked into carrying out illegal activities such as being drug mules.

“Jokowi and Duterte’s conflicting statements are regrettable and counterproductive, especially considering this is about someone’s live,” said Anis Hidayah, head of migrant workers advocacy group Migrant Care.

Anis, who was involved in lobbying for Mary Jane’s last-minute stay of execution, also said Jokowi showed a lack of compassion by releasing such a statement.

“It must have been very demoralizing and shocking for Mary Jane’s family,” she said, adding that Jokowi should pardon Mary Jane given she is also a victim of human trafficking.

Migrante International, an advocacy group for overseas Philippine workers, issued a statement urging Duterte to be Mary Jane’s top advocate.

The group chairperson Garry Martinez said that Duterte should understand Mary Jane is a victim due to lack of jobs, poverty, illegal recruitment and drug trafficking.

“President Duterte’s war on drugs must mean something. It must mean protecting victims like Mary Jane,” Martinez said, referring to Duterte’s tough war on drugs by launching extrajudicial killing that has killed thousands since he took office two months ago.

“We ask the President to be her no. 1 advocate and supporter and send a message to the drug traffickers that they will pay,” Martinez added.

Philippine president denies approving Mary Jane’s execution

A Philippine official said Monday that President Rodrigo Duterte did not give the green light for Indonesia to go ahead with the execution of a Philippine woman currently on death row for drug trafficking.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto R. Yasay clarified in a statement that Duterte never gave his Indonesian counterpart the green light to the execution of Mary Jane Veloso, contradicting reported comments from the Indonesian president earlier that day.

“[Duterte] told the Indonesian president that he respects their judicial processes and will accept whatever the final decision they will arrive at regarding her case,” Yasay said.

The clarification came after President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said that Duterte had told him to proceed with the execution of Mary Jane, according to a statement on the cabinet secretary’s website.

Jokowi said he had discussed the suspended execution of Mary Jane with Duterte during their meeting at the presidential palace when the Philippine president was on his first-ever state visit to a foreign country since he took office on June 30.

“President Duterte said at the time to go ahead with the execution,” Jokowi said, without providing further details.

Emmanuel Pinol, Philippine Agriculture Secretary who was at the meeting, said Duterte never told Jokowi that it was okay to execute Mary Jane, according to Manila Bulletin.

“The president never agreed to execute Mary Jane,” he said.

“What he said was that we respect your law, we will not interfere with your judicial process but we will ask for clemency,” Pinol added.

He also said there was an understanding that Mary Jane’s execution had been postponed indefinitely.

Jokowi said that he told Duterte that Mary Jane had been caught carrying 2.6 kilograms of heroin when she was arrested at Yogyakarta’s airport in April 2010, before being sentenced to death in October the same year.

Mary Jane was granted an 11th-hour reprieve on April 29 last year when Philippine authorities requested her testimony in an ongoing legal case in the Philippines after her alleged recruiter Maria Cristina Sergio and her partners were arrested.

Duterte made no reference to Mary Jane’s case in a joint press statement after their meeting, even though he had said before his visit to Indonesia that he would ask Jokowi to grant Mary Jane leniency.

However, he said that Indonesia and the Philippines w seeking ways to intensify cooperation against illegal drugs as part of their efforts for a drug-free Asean.

“We share the deep concern over the trade in illicit and illegal drugs and its impact on our societies,” Duterte said.