Tag: Jakarta

Indonesian police break alleged online fake news syndicate

Indonesian police have arrested three people they say were part of a syndicate that spread fake news and other misinformation online for money.

The group, called Saracen, posted false news, provocative memes and other forms of content on social media to suit the agenda of their paymasters, said national police spokesman Awi Setiyono.

The alleged syndicate involved about 800,000 social media accounts and offered its services to individuals for payments, he said, adding that police were trying to find out who their clients were.

“These people were engaged in hate speech,” the Setiyono said. “People must not fall for memes intended to create ethnic, religious and racial divisions.”

Ethnic and religious tensions rose earlier this year in the run-up to the Jakarta gubernatorial election pitting then-incumbent Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, a Christian of Chinese descent, and former education minister Anies Baswedan.

While campaigning, Basuki was charged with blasphemy after hundreds of thousands of Muslims rallied to demand he be prosecuted over remarks that his opponents misused a verse from the Koran to prevent him from winning another term.

He lost an April election run-off to Anies, who was backed by Muslim conservatives, despite winning the most vote in the first round vote, and was subsequently sentenced to two years in prison for blasphemy.

Ahok concedes defeat in Jakarta gubernatorial election

The governor of Jakarta, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, has conceded defeat in a religiously-charged election to lead the Indonesian capital after unofficial vote counts showed a comfortable lead for his opponent Anies Baswedan.

 

“To our supporters, I know you are sad, but this is the will of God,” Basuki said.

“We still have six months to finish our homework and we will do our best,” he said, referring to his time left in office.
anies
A representative selection of votes surveyed by several pollsters, referred to as quick counts, showed Basuki on 42 per cent and rival Anies commanding 58 per cent.

Anies is backed by conservative Muslims who want Basuki, a Christian of Chinese descent, jailed for a perceived insult to Islam that dogged his campaign.

The apparent margin of Basuki’s loss came as a surprise after polls conducted before the election showed the race to be too close to call.

Basuki won a three-way first-round vote on February 15, securing 43 per cent of the votes compared to Anies’s 40 per cent.

Anies said after the first results came in that he would work to unite the divided electorate.

“We are committed to maintaining unity in Jakarta,” Anies said. “We want to celebrate pluralism and diversity.”

The official tally from the run-off will not be announced until the first week of May, but the so-called quick counts have accurately predicted past elections.

Wednesday’s election was seen by some analysts as a test of secular democracy in the world’s most populous predominantly Muslim country.

“Your vote will determine the direction of Jakarta,” Basuki said after casting his ballot near his residence in North Jakarta.

“Let’s celebrate democracy with joy,” he said.

About 7 million of Jakarta’s 10 million residents were eligible to vote.

Basuki’s bid for a second term was hampered by a blasphemy case triggered by comments he made on the Koran.

Basuki’s remarks that there were people who deceived Muslim voters into believing that the Koran commands them not to vote for Jews and Christians sparked massive street protests by conservatives in November and December.

He was charged with blasphemy and is facing a maximum five-year jail term if found guilty. He remains free and a verdict is expected after the election.

He has apologized for the remarks, and said that he was referring to those who misused religion for political gain.

His campaign has warned that a victory for his Islamist-backed opponent could threaten diversity and pluralism.

“I voted for Ahok because he has proven to be a leader who gets things done and he represents diversity,” said Rudy Pardede after voting at a polling station in central Jakarta.

Security was tight in the capital, with 65,000 police officers deployed to guard against voter intimidation.

Once a clear favourite, Basuki saw his poll numbers falling after the blasphemy accusations, as many conservative Muslims genuinely believe that he insulted Islam.

Conversely, support for the US-educated Anies rose after he met one of the leaders of the anti-Basuki protests, firebrand cleric Muhammad Rizieq Shihab.

Basuki, the first Christian to lead Jakarta in 50 years, has been perceived as an effective administrator in a bureaucracy long plagued by corruption and incompetence.

He has won praise for cleaning up rivers clogged with rubbish in an effort to reduce flooding, a perennial problem in the city.

His administration has also built more parks and playgrounds.

But he has caused resentment with his decision to evict poor residents from their riverbank homes and relocate some of them to cramped, low-cost apartments, where they have to find rent money despite having been separated from their source of income.

Anies, a respected academic, has capitalized on the discontent, vowing to upgrade existing houses instead of evicting.

Tight race for Jakarta governorship after divisive campaigning

Jakarta’s residents will choose between a beleaguered Christian incumbent and a rival supported by conservative Muslims in a religiously charged gubernatorial election on April 19.

The election, which sees Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, an ethnic Chinese Christian, take on former education minister Anies Baswedan, is seen by some analysts as a test of secular democracy in the world’s most populous predominantly Muslim country.

Ahok’s bid for a second term has been dogged by a blasphemy case triggered by comments he made on the Qur’an that were deemed insulting to Islam.

Ahok won a three-way first-round vote on February 15, securing 43 per cent of the votes. Anies came second with 39 per cent.

Latest polls suggest that the race for the run-off is tight, with Anies leading by about percentage point.

“A defeat for Ahok could be a bad precedent because political parties would be led to believe that the politization of religion is effective,” said Tobias Basuki, a political analyst at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies.

Ahok’s remarks that there were people who deceived Muslim voters into believing that the Qur’an commands them not to vote for Jews and Christians sparked massive street protests by conservatives in November and December.

Ahok was charged with blasphemy and is facing a maximum five-year jail term if found guilty. He remains free and a verdict is expected after the election.

He has apologized for the remarks, and said that he was referring to those who misused religion for political gain.

His campaign has warned that a victory for his Islamist-backed opponent could threaten diversity and pluralism.

But in some neighbourhood mosques, congregants installed banners calling for Muslims not to vote for an “infidel,” in reference to Ahok. The banners warned that those who did so would not receive Islamic rites when they died.

Once a clear favourite, Ahok saw his poll numbers falling after the blasphemy accusations, as many conservative Muslims genuinely believe that he insulted Islam.

On the other hand, support for the US-educated Anies rose after he met one of the leaders of the anti-Ahok protests, firebrand cleric Muhammad Rizieq Shihab.

Ahok, the first Christian to lead Jakarta in 50 years, has been perceived as an effective administrator in a bureaucracy long plagued by corruption and incompetence.

He has won praise for cleaning up rivers clogged with rubbish, thereby reducing flooding, a perennial problem in the city of 10 million people.

His administration has also built more parks and children’s playgrounds.

But he has caused resentment with his decision to evict poor residents from their riverbank homes and relocate some of them to low-cost apartments, where they have to find rent money despite having been separated from their source of income.

Ahok has also drawn criticism for going ahead with the reclamation of Jakarta Bay to create 17 artificial islands for business and recreational purposes.

Anies, a respected academic, has capitalized on the discontent.

He has vowed to upgrade existing houses instead of evicting, and to cancel the reclamation of the bay, saying that the project threatens the environment and the fishermen’s livelihood.

He has denied accusations that he was complicit in sectarianism, arguing that perceived injustice and growing social division were the underlying problems.

“To bring unity, we need to tackle the issue of disparities. Disparities between the haves and the have-nots … and between the educated and the not-educated,” he said.

Man arrested for billboard porn screening

Police in Jakarta have arrested a man who admitted to playing a Japanese adult video on a giant electronic billboard at a busy street, a spokesman said Wednesday.  Continue reading “Man arrested for billboard porn screening”

Jakarta Governor Ahok seeks to break Indonesia’s political mold

Denied an endorsement by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama says he will run independently in next year’s gubernatorial election, upsetting a time-honored tradition in which politicians pay parties for the privilege of running.

The decision is causing consternation in political circles in Jakarta. But it is at one with the changing political tides in Indonesia as the old order, dominated by the elites and political parties, begins to fade.  Basuki himself served in the local government of a tiny island province before joining to run Jakarta with Joko Widodo, previously the mayor of Surakarta. Jokowi went on to be the first Indonesian president who did not emerge from either the army or the country’s political elite.

Without the support from PDI-P, Ahok, as Basuki is known, will not pair up with his deputy, Djarot Saiful Hidayat in the race, set for 2017. Instead, his running mate will be his subordinate at the Jakarta Financial and Asset Management Board (BPKAD) head Heru Budi Hartono.

With Basuki’s decision to run as an independent candidate, the PDI-P is likely to pick its own candidate. After the news broke, Basuki, widely known as Ahok, explained that one of his reasons for not pairing with a political party was that he might not have enough money to fuel the party machinery, a prerequisite for candidates.

“Teman Ahok” — the support group under which Basuki will run as an independent candidate, has announced that they have collected nearly 700,000 validated signatures in support of the governor’s candidacy, more than enough required by the law for independent candidates to run.

Ahok initially told his supporters to pick the PDI-P’s Djarot as his deputy but the group advised him to pick another because Djarot needed permission from the PDI-P. That angered the party’s leaders, who have accused Ahok of trying to delegitimize the longstanding influence of political parties in the Indonesian political scheme.

The word deparpolisasi (“delegitimize political parties”) has now become part of the new lexicon.

Despite being seen as a controversial figure because of his frequent strong comments in public on corruption and other issues, as well as his personal background as an ethnic Chinese and a Christian in a predominantly Muslim country, Ahok, by his strong, corruption-free stint as governor, is considered the strongest candidate in the race. He beat back an attempt to impeach him by city council members in 2014 when he cleaned up what were euphemistically known as “budget irregularities” that appeared to be going into council members’ pockets.

Other small political parties seeking to get a splash of his popularity have tried to persuade Ahok to use to them as his political vehicle, with other politicians attempting to use his religion as a way to block his appeal with voters, who are mostly Muslim.

Ahok came to office when he was picked by Jokowi, as the president is known, during the gubernatorial election in 2012. Once Jokowi left after being elected president, Basuki took over as governor in 2014. His popularity has risen as he has built on Jokowi’s enviable record as governor. It spiked after he closed down the infamous red-light district of Kalijodo in North Jakarta.

The city administration, backed by 5,000 personnel from the Jakarta police and the Indonesian military, demolished buildings from the morning onwards using heavy equipment. Local television aired pictures of big excavators tearing down cafés, residences and houses of worship.

The historic red-light district came into the public spotlight following a drunk-driving accident in which four people were killed in early March. The accident occurred after the driver and his friends had spent a night drinking in Kalijodo, which is known for its cafes and pubs, prostitution services as well as gambling.

Despite the harsh warnings Ahok said that evicted residents who had Jakarta ID cards would be relocated to subsidized apartments, moreover, Ahok said that he will also provide some residents with soft loans of up to Rp10 million (US$741) with only 1 percent monthly interest for them to start new businesses after their existing employment ended amid the wreckage of the district.

No security disturbances occurred during the eviction process as many had feared would happen. Police and TNI officers were assigned to prevent disturbances and arrange traffic.

Basuki has set his eyes on developing a large children’s park on the cleared land as part of the administration’s ambition to improve green spaces and public facilities in Jakarta.

The Kalijodo shutdown also said to play a key role in Jakarta’s flood management, the governor said, adding that water always flows from South Jakarta to North Jakarta as it is the meeting point of the Angke and Item Rivers and the East Flood Canal.

Jakarta, which lies at the confluence of several rivers, regularly floods almost every year during the rainy season.

Police pursuing militants after Jakarta attack

Indonesian police were hunting for Islamist militants Friday after a terrorist attack in the capital killed two civilians, as security was tightened across the country.  Continue reading “Police pursuing militants after Jakarta attack”