Former militants hoisted the flag and pledged loyalty to Indonesia on independence day

Dozens of former terrorists took part in ceremonies to mark Indonesia’s 74th anniversary of independence as the country raised its red-and-white national flag and celebrated its vast diversity.

The former militants held a flag-raising ceremony in Tenggulun village of Lamongan district in East Java province, hosted by Yayasan Lingkar Perdamaian or the Peace Circle Foundation that Ali Fauzi established. Ali is the younger brother of Ali Ghufron and Amrozi, the two leading perpetrators executed for the 2002 Bali bombing that killed 202 people.

Now a reformed former militant, Ali took part in the ceremony by reading out the proclamation text in the presence of Lamongan district police chief Feby Hutagalung, who presided over the ceremony.

“The ceremony this year included the former militants’ wives, children, and their extended families. There were about 225 who took part, standing in the formation in front of the flagpole,” Ali told The Parrot.

A former convict of the Bali attack, Assadullah and a former member of Al Qaeda-linked militant group Jemaah Islamiyah, Yoyok Edi, also played their roles in the ceremony as officers leading the formation.

Amrozi’s son, Zulia Mahendra, and Khairul Mustain, the son of Nor Minda, another man convicted of the Bali bombing, took part in the ceremony as flag raisers.

Some former terrorists and their families refused to take part in the ceremony, which included saluting the flag and singing the national anthem, he said.

“But I understand their objection. We cannot force them because this is about ideology. It takes time and I am sure with the right approach they will eventually be willing to do that,” he said.

An oath of loyalty to the republic was read aloud by Hamim Tohari, who was also convicted over the Bali attacks, with everyone in formation repeated the oath in unison

“By the grace of God, we hereby pledge devotion and loyalty to the unitary state of the Republic of Indonesia,” the first oath said, according to a text that Ali provided to The Parrot.

They also pledged to obey and abide by Pancasila and the 1945 Constitution as the country’s ideology and founding principles.

The third oath stated that they are willing to uphold tolerance and the nation’s unity, above all differences.

“Some of the women who wear the face veil also attended the ceremony,” Ali said.

“This is also to show them that the Indonesian government guarantees their freedom to wear what they want in accordance with their faith, and also to show to the public that women who wear face veils should not be singled out as terrorists.”

In the nation’s capital, President Joko Widodo presided over a flag-hoisting ceremony at the presidential palace with Vice President Jusuf Kalla, former presidents and vice presidents, Cabinet ministers and foreign ambassadors among the guests. Many wore traditional costumes representing Indonesia’s various ethnic groups.

The annual ceremony is marked by reading out the proclamation text at 10 a.m., the same time when Indonesia’s first president, Soekarno, read the original text to proclaim independence in Jakarta more than seven decades ago.

Jakarta Gov. Anies Baswedan presided over a similar ceremony with thousands of civil servants in attendance on an artificial islet off the northern coast of Jakarta.

The islet, which was originally built for a disputed mega-reclamation project in Jakarta Bay and previously known during the controversial project as Islet D, is now called Maju Beach.

“We are having the ceremony in this particular area because this is an area that did not exist when we declared our independence,” Anies said during the ceremony.

“We want to convey a message to everyone that this is not private land, but a land that belongs to the Republic of Indonesia. This is our land and we want to make sure that the red-and-white flag is hoisted on this land.”

The original story was published in Arab News



Indonesia’s Muslims urged to ‘go green’ and ditch plastic bags on Eid


Screenshot_2019-08-11 Kerajinan Indonesia craftindo on Instagram “Stok besek Size 18 x 18 cm spesial for #besekkurban Ready[...]
Photo: Instagram @kerajinan_handycraft_indonesia

Indonesia is urging Muslims to use eco-friendly packaging when distributing sacrificial meat on Eid Al-Adha this year, as the country fights to reduce the amount of plastic waste it produces.

Indonesia is second only to China when it comes to dumping plastic waste in the ocean and, with a Muslim-majority population, the use of plastic bags to package sacrificial meat could lead to tens of thousands of tons of additional waste. Indonesia is estimated to produce an estimated 25,000 tonnes of plastic waste every day, many of which end up in the ocean.

The slaughter of an animal — qurbani — is carried out in remembrance of the Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael at Allah’s command.

Regional leaders across Indonesia were last month urged by the government to tell people to bring their own reusable containers instead of single-use plastic bags for the sacrificial meat.

“Alternatively, they can replace plastic bags with wrappings from banana or teak leaves, woven bamboo baskets, or other biodegradable or reusable packaging,” an official from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Rosa Vivien Ratnawati, said in a circular.

Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan said the use of woven bamboo baskets would help to reduce plastic waste and generate additional income for local tradesmen, while Central Jakarta Mayor Bayu Meghantara said his office would distribute 500 woven bamboo baskets to qurbani committees.

Abu Hurairah Abdul Salam, a spokesman for Istiqlal Mosque in Central Jakarta, said the qurbani committee had started using plastic bags made of cassava pulp four years ago.

“But, in accordance with the governor’s instructions, we will be using woven bamboo baskets to distribute qurbani meat this year. We have prepared 5,000 baskets and, if we run out of baskets, we will be using biodegradable cassava plastic bags,” he said.

The mosque slaughtered 30 cows and 20 goats this year.

North Jakarta’s Ancol Dreamland Park will hand out sacrificial meat to the first 100 recipients in woven bamboo baskets, or besek.

“We will wrap the rest of the qurbani meat packages, which on average are up to 5,000, in biodegradable, cassava-based bags. This is one of the many policies that park management has issued to address the waste problem. We have stopped using plastic straws at all vendor stalls,” Ancol spokeswoman Rika Lestari said.

The Indonesian Council of Ulema is backing the nationwide green initiative.

“We can take this Eid moment to start a new habit by using eco-friendly bags and to change our society’s dependence on plastic bags,” council’s fatwa committee official Hasanuddin Abdul Fattah said in a statement.

Read the original story in Arab News

Garuda sues YouTube reviewer over handwritten menu post

 An Indonesian YouTube personality said on Tuesday he had been sued by national airline Garuda over a social media posting about a hand-written business-class menu.

Rius Vernandes, a popular vlogger, posted an Instagram photo showing the menu written on a piece of notebook paper on Saturday with the caption: “The menu is still being printed, sir.”   

The post went viral and prompted Indonesian social media users to mock the airline. 

Rius said he has received a summons from the police in connection with the post.   

“We’ve been reported for defamation. I’m sure you know I had no intention whatsoever to defame anyone,” he said on Instagram. 

“I hope you can support me because I don’t want anyone to be prosecuted for an honest review and constructive criticism,” he said. 

Garuda said the handwritten menu was made by a cabin crew member for personal use and not intended to be handed out to passengers.

Police confirmed that Garuda had filed a defamation case against Rius. 

Garuda came under more criticism on Tuesday after a circular instructing the cabin crew to prohibit passengers from taking photos or videos mid-air circulated on social media. 

The airline later clarified that the directive had been withdrawn, but said that passengers are advised to respect other people’s privacy by not taking their photos.     

“Passengers can take photos for personal use such as selfies as long as they do not inconvenience other passengers,” the company’s spokesman Ikhsan Rosan said in a statement. 

More than 300 election workers in Indonesia die of exhaustion

At least 287 polling station workers and 18 police officers have died mainly from exhaustion and illnesses associated with overwork after Indonesia’s elections this month, officials said Monday.

The world’s fourth-largest country held the legislative and presidential elections in a single day for the first time on April 17, but the high death toll prompted public calls for the polls to be held separately. 

“So far, 287 election workers across the country have died and 2,095 have fallen ill,” said Arief Priyo Susanto, spokesman for the General Election Commission.

“The main cause of the deaths is exhaustion and some accidents and illnesses caused by exhaustion,” he added.

The electoral commission said a total of 150 workers died from similar causes during the 2014 presidential and legislative elections, which were held three months apart. 

More than seven million workers were involved in what many experts described as the world’s largest and most complicated single-day election, with voting and vote-counting conducted manually. 

Nearly 193 million Indonesians were eligible to vote, with the turnout estimated at 81 per cent.

Voters elected a president, 575 members of the House of Representatives, 136 members of the Regional Representative Council and almost 20,000 members of local legislatures.

Officials said holding the elections simultaneously was a cost-saving measure, but it has proved to be a massive logistical challenge to distribute ballot papers and ballot boxes across the far-flung archipelago. 

National police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo said 18 officers also died from working long hours during the elections. 

The government has promised to provide compensation of up to 36 million rupiah (2,500 dollars) for surviving families.

2019 elections: Another test of Indonesian democracy?

Dozens of people involved in the 2019 election have died. They were members of the polling station working committee (KPPS) and police who had reportedly suffered from exhaustion after working long hours to count the ballots after”the most complicated single-day election in the world”.

The news is shocking because the election went peacefully. The question worth asking is: Why? Is the sacrifice worth it?

The simultaneous elections, in which voters had to cast five ballots at once, were intended to save cost and time, but it appears that the General Election Commission (KPU) did not anticipate how long the counting process would take at the polling station level.

The KPU conducted a simulation on how long it would take for each voter to cast five ballots in each booth, which is about five minutes. But it seems they did not anticipate how long it would take for each polling station to count all the ballots.

If at least 190 million people voted in the April 17 elections, there are at least 950 million ballot papers that must be counted. The results from each polling station are recorded in the C1 form, to make its way into KPU’s total ballots count.

Imagine just how daunting the work must have been.

Some friends who helped at the polling stations said that they had to work around the clock. Although it is clear that their dedication is inspiring, the high death toll should prompt the KPU to reevaluate the conduct of simultaneous elections such as this.

Should the next legislative and presidential elections be held on the same day again? One life lost is too many.

What is at stake?

The 2019 presidential election is a repeat of 2014 elections, in which Joko “Jokowi” Widodo beat Prabowo by a narrow margin. This time around, Jokowi is expected to win 54%, a slight improvement from 53.15% in 2014.

Just like in 2014, Prabowo claimed that he won the election and alleged widespread attempts of fraud throughout the elections. Even in the lead-up to the elections, the opposition camp has raised publicly the prospect of the elections being rigged in favour of Jokowi.

Tensions have risen in recent days amid fears that Prabowo will resort to mobilising his supporters to revolt over the election fraud allegations, which remain unproven.

Although for some people, the plot thickens.

Rumours about seven containers of ballots pre-marked for Jokowi went viral on social media during the campaign period. A week before voting day, the Election Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) reported that bags of ballots pre-cast for Jokowi had been found in two warehouses in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

As an icing on the cake, former People’s Consultative Assembly chairman Amien Rais went so far as threatening for “people power” if the elections were rigged.

Fearing for possible post-election unrest, chiefs of the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) and the National Police issued a joint warning that “anarchic acts” and attempts to undermine the electoral process would be dealt with sternly.

Prabowo has been an active participant in national elections three times, but this year’s election appeared to have been the last straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak.

After the reformasi movement brought down Soeharto in 1998, Prabowo was forced to end his military career due to accusations that he was involved in the disappearances of pro-democracy activists. He moved to Jordan after being dismissed from the military and returned to Indonesia two years later to start a new life as a businessman.

In the 2009 election, Prabowo was picked as the running mate of Megawati Soekarnoputri, reportedly on the agreement that she would back Prabowo as a presidential candidate in 2014. But instead, Megawati picked Joko Widodo (whom she often referred to as “the party’s officer), who successfully ran in the gubernatorial election two years earlier, on Prabowo’s backing.

It appears that the perceived betrayal has angered Prabowo, who during campaign rallies often railed against what he called the “untrustworthy political elite in Jakarta”.

Prabowo’s political failures over the past decade could reach a boiling point when combined with the dissatisfaction of some hardline Islamic groups with the current government’s policy which they perceived as anti-Islam.

Black flags with the shahada inscription often associated with the Hizbut-Tahrir Indonesia (HTI) could be seen during Prabowo’s campaign rallies, despite the government’s decision to ban the organization.

It was, for this reason, former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, whose Democratic Party-backed Prabowo in the election, reportedly expressed concerns about visible religious symbols at Prabowo’s rally at the Bung Karno stadium on April 7 and called it “too exclusive.”

It is our hope that Prabowo’s grudges, coupled with the encouragement of Islamic groups who also feel oppressed by Jokowi’s government, will not degenerate into “people power.” After all, despite the 21 years of experimenting with democracy, the memories of 1998 unrest continue to haunt us.

The 2019 election will be a test: has Indonesia as a nation grown more mature in exercising democracy? Can allegations of fraud and other irregularities be resolved constitutionally and with dignity?

These coming days will be recorded in the annals of history. Are we moving forward or backward?

Pemilu serentak 2019: ujian bagi demokrasi Indonesia?

Sampai saat opini ini ditulis, sudah puluhan orang yang terlibat dalam pelaksanaan pemilu 2019 meninggal dunia. Mereka adalah anggota KPPS maupun POLRI yang kabarnya didera oleh kelelahan karena harus bekerja secara simultan menghitung hasil suara dan mengamankan jalannya pemilu yang disebut sebagai “paling rumit di seluruh dunia” ini.

Kabar duka tersebut sungguh membuat kita terhenyak dan prihatin. Puluhan orang meninggal bukan dalam konflik atau kekerasan, melainkan justru dalam sebuah pemilu yang berlangsung relatif damai. Mengapa bisa sampai demikian? Apakah ini sesuatu yang normal dan layak dianggap sepadan?

Saya kira Komisi Pemilihan Umum (KPU) pun tidak menyangka bahwa pemilihan yang awalnya dirancang untuk menghemat biaya dan waktu dengan cara menggabungkan pemilihan legislatif dan presiden secara bersamaan, justru akan memakan banyak korban karena proses penghitungan yang sangat lama, mengingat 190 juta lebih pemilih harus mencoblos lima surat suara sekaligus.

Seingat saya, dalam persiapannya KPU hanya melakukan simulasi tentang berapa lama waktu yang diperlukan bagi setiap pemilih untuk mencoblos di setiap bilik, yaitu sekitar lima menit. Sepertinya KPU tidak melakukan simulasi berapa lama setiap TPS akan menghitung surat suara yang sudah dicoblos tersebut.

Jika minimal ada 190 juta pemilih pada pemilu kemarin, maka setidaknya ada 950 juta lembar surat suara yang harus dihitung! Untuk kemudian dibuat rekapitulasi dalam bentuk formulir C1, dan sesudahnya harus dikawal sampai hasilnya bisa dihitung oleh KPU pusat.

Bayangkan betapa lelahnya para petugas KPPS.

Beberapa teman yang membantu di TPS mengatakan bahwa mereka bekerja dari pagi sampai pagi lagi agar bisa menyelesaikan tugasnya. Sungguh luar biasa dedikasi dan pengorbanan mereka bagi kelanjutan demokrasi Indonesia.

Kejadian ini harus menjadi perhatian khusus dan evaluasi bagi KPU, apakah pemilihan legislatif dan presiden selanjutnya akan kembali digabung? karena sesungguhnya, satu nyawa pun tidak boleh menjadi korban untuk suatu hal yang seharusnya bisa diperkirakan sebelumnya.

Peserta pemilu dan Pertaruhan Demokrasi Indonesia

Pemilihan presiden 2019 merupakan kilas balik pemilu 2014, baik pesertanya maupun yang terjadi sesudahnya. Kita semuanya seperti mengalami de já vu.

Seperti yang diperkirakan oleh beberapa lembaga hitung cepat, petahana Presiden Joko Widodo diperkirakan menang dengan kisaran suara 55%, sementara Prabowo Subianto mendapatkan sekitar 45%. Hasil ini sebenarnya sebuah peningkatan, karena ketika memenangkan pemilihan presiden 2014, Jokowi hanya mendapatkan 53,15% suara.

Seperti pada tahun 2014, Prabowo yang saat itu berpasangan dengan Hatta Rajasa juga melakukan klaim kemenangan yang disertai dengan sujud syukur. Pada pemilu kali ini, Prabowo bahkan sampai melakukan tiga kali pidato kemenangan, dengan klaim telah meraih 62% suara.

Yang mengkhawatirkan pada pemilu 2019 adalah semakin menguatnya isu SARA, penyebaran kabar bohong (hoax) dan kemungkinan konflik akibat pengerahan massa (people power) atas klaim kecurangan pemilu.

Seperti sebuah pra-kondisi sebelum pelaksanaan pemilu 17 April, narasi bahwa pemilu akan diwarnai dengan kecurangan sudah dimunculkan ke publik. Dimulai dengan kabar hoax tentang tujuh kontainer surat suara yang sudah dicoblos, disusul dengan beredarnya video surat suara yang dicoblos untuk Jokowi di Malaysia, sampai ancaman untuk pengerahan people power dari politisi senior Amien Rais.

Sebagai jawaban, panglima TNI memberikan warning cukup keras kepada publik, bahwa pengacau pemilu yang disebutnya akan “mengancam jalannya demokrasi” akan berhadapan langsung dengan kekuatan TNI.

Prabowo yang sudah tiga kali menjadi peserta aktif pemilu sepertinya sudah “sangat geram” dengan kompilasi situasi politik yang dilaluinya sejak 1998. Ketika gelombang gerakan yang menuntut terjadinya pergantian pemimpin nasional akhirnya berhasil menurunkan Presiden Suharto (yang juga mantan mertuanya), karir militernya terhenti akibat tuduhan penculikan aktivis pro-demokrasi sehingga ia harus pindah ke Yordania memulai hidup baru sebagai pebisnis.

Pada pemilu 2009, Prabowo maju sebagai calon wakil presiden Megawati Soekarnoputri, dimana terdapat sebuah perjanjian antara keduanya bahwa pada pemilu 2014, Megawati akan ganti mendukungnya maju dalam pilpres sebagai calon presiden.

Namun seperti yang kita semua ketahui, alih-alih mendukung Prabowo maju sebagai capres pada pilpres 2014, Megawati justru memunculkan Joko Widodo (yang sering disebutnya sebagai “petugas partai”), dimana ironisnya pada pemilihan gubernur Jakarta 2012 lalu, Jokowi berhasil terpilih setelah dibiayai oleh Prabowo.

Saking geramnya dengan tikung menikung dalam dunia perpolitikan, dalam berbagai sesi kampanye-nya Prabowo sering menghujat “elite politik Jakarta” yang bahkan disebutnya sebagai bajingan.

Kegeraman Prabowo yang sudah berkali-kali gagal dalam pemilu selama satu dekade terakhir ini, sepertinya bisa saja berakhir tragis karena “bersambut gayung” dengan gerakan lain yang juga kesal dengan pemerintahan Jokowi selama hampir lima tahun terakhir ini.

Seperti kita ketahui, bendera hitam yang identik dengan lambang Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI) sering berkibar dengan bebas di kampanye Prabowo, walaupun telah dilarang keberadaannya sebagai sebuah organisasi di Indonesia. Pasca pelarangan HTI, Jokowi sering disebut sebagai “pemimpin anti Islam”, sehingga pendukung dan gerakan yang menonjolkan identitas Islam yang makin menguat mengambil posisi di kubu Prabowo.

Dalam kampanye akbar terakhir sebelum pemilu (7/4) di Gelora Bung Karno, mantan presiden Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono yang berada dalam barisan partai politik pendukung Prabowo juga dikabarkan tidak setuju dengan konsep kampanye Prabowo yang disebut sebagai “terlalu eksklusif” dan tak lazim, dimana kampanye tersebut dimulai dengan sholat berjamaah pendukung yang memenuhi GBK, dilanjutkan dengan zikir dan shalawat.

Koleksi kegeraman Prabowo terhadap sekumpulan elite yang disebutnya sebagai bajingan, ditambah dengan dorongan kelompok Islam yang juga merasa dizalimi oleh pemerintahan Jokowi, semoga tidak berlanjut dalam bentuk people power. Walaupun selama 21 tahun kita sudah memilih jalur demokrasi dan melaksanakan reformasi, ingatan akan sejarah kelam 1998 sepertinya masih sangat lekat, sehingga setiap ada pihak yang menyebut “people power”, otomatis ingatan kita menuju pada memori 1998.

Mungkin dalam sejarah pemilihan umum di Indonesia, tidak ada satupun pemilu yang diawasi dengan sangat ketat oleh masyarakat secara langsung seperti pemilu 2019 ini. Media sosial penuh dengan kekhawatiran akan kecurangan, sehingga foto formulir C1 bertebaran dimana-mana. Bahkan selisih suara di beberapa TPS pun membuat KPU harus segera mengakui dan memperbaiki, karena kredibilitas KPU sebagai penyelenggara pemilu yang sedari awal sering dituduh berpihak, akan menjadi taruhannya.

Pemilu 2019 akan menjadi sebuah ujian: apakah Indonesia sebagai bangsa telah semakin dewasa dan matang dalam berdemokrasi? Apakah kecurangan, ketidakpuasan, dan sebagainya dapat diselesaikan secara konstitusional dan bermartabat?

Hari-hari ini, sampai dengan dilakukannya evaluasi pelaksanaan dan diumumkannya hasil resmi pemilu oleh KPU secara aman dan damai, akan menjadi sebuah catatan dalam sejarah demokrasi Indonesia.

Apakah kita akan maju, atau malah mundur?

Prabowo tells pollsters to move to Antarctica as he rejects unofficial election results

Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto on Friday accused pollsters of lying after unofficial counts showed he lost this week’s election to incumbent President Joko Widodo, telling them to move to Antarctica.

Prabowo has rejected the so-called quick counts, released by private pollsters from samples of polling stations, that give Joko an 8-percentage-point lead over Prabowo.

“Ladies and gentlemen, do you trust fake pollsters?” Prabowo asked more than 1,000 supporters gathering outside his house in south Jakarta.

The crowd responded in unison: “No!”

“You cheating pollsters may be able to lie to penguins in Antarctica, but Indonesia doesn’t want to listen to you anymore,” Prabowo said.

Supporters gathered outside Prabowo’s spacious house and chanted religious songs after Friday prayers.

Quick counts have proved accurate in predicting winners in past Indonesian elections.

But Prabowo said that actual votes at more than 300,000 polling stations showed him leading with 62 per cent.

Prabowo said Thursday that he had won the presidency and urged his supporters to monitor the official vote count to stop cheating.

“We are declaring our victory early because we have proof that there have been various attempts at fraud in many villages, sub-districts, districts and cities across Indonesia,” he said.

Official results will not be announced until later next month. 

He made a similar claim of victory in 2014 after unofficial counts showed that he lost narrowly to Joko.  

Joko, for his part, said that he had “99 per cent” confidence in the quick count results pointing to his victory.

Indonesia’s armed forces chief, Air Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto, warned that any unrest would be dealt with sternly. 

“We will not tolerate and will take stern action against attempts to disturb public order or unconstitutional acts that undermine the democratic process,” he said.