Tag: Luhut Pandjaitan

Indonesia keeps Bali closed to foreign tourists

Indonesia will remain closed to foreign tourists at least until the end of the year, Indonesian officials said during recent online forums.

As the country still grapples with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the government is not taking the risk to create new clusters with foreign tourist arrivals and to compromise its coronavirus control efforts, State-Owned Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir said on Saturday.

“For the time being, we are still evaluating the reopening to foreign tourists,” said Thohir, who also chairs the national committee to accelerate economic recovery and COVID-19 mitigation during an online discussion.

Earlier on Thursday, Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Pandjaitan said during an online meeting with the country’s business community that all non-essential foreign visitors will remain barred from entering the country, while the government will try to boost domestic tourism to keep the hospitality sector afloat.

“With regard to foreign tourists, I think we will not be welcoming them until the end of the year,” Pandjaitan said, shelving a plan laid out by the provincial government of the holiday island of Bali — Indonesia’s most popular tourist destination — to reopen for international visitors on Sept. 11.

Bali reopened its tourism spots to locals on the island on July 9 and started welcoming back domestic tourists from other parts of Indonesia on July 31.

According to an analysis issued in June based on the extraction of data location of 208,362 Instagram posts with hashtag #TakeMeBack, travelers revealed that Bali ranked second – with the Giza pyramid complex in Egypt ranked first – as the destination that they missed the most in the absence of traveling during the pandemic.

Dutch online reservation company Booking.com in May placed Bali among the top international destinations alongside Andalusia, Florida, London, and Paris that travelers around the world put on their wish list, based on a survey conducted on its platform in April and March to users grounded by lockdowns and international travel restrictions.

Pandjaitan’s remarks also ended speculation as to whether the central government would revoke a regulation issued by the justice minister in late March banning foreigners — except those arriving for essential, diplomatic and official purposes — from entering Indonesia amid ongoing efforts to contain the virus outbreak.

Bali authorities were hoping for the regulation to be revoked ahead of the island’s plan to reopen to foreigners.

Ida Bagus Agung Partha Adnyana, head of the Bali Tourism Board, said industry players in Bali were ready for the Sept. 11 plan but acknowledged that the central government’s decision to keep foreign arrivals suspended “must be based on a more urgent reason.”

“There could be a macro outlook behind Jakarta’s decision, and it could be for everyone’s greater good,” Adnyana said.

According to Pandjaitan, Indonesian authorities will focus on promoting domestic tourism as Indonesians who were planning to go for holidays abroad, including those who were set to travel for Umrah, will be unable to do so this year so due to international travel restrictions.

“There is plenty of money around. No one is going on the Umrah pilgrimage, and those who used to go to Singapore or Penang for medical treatment are not going anywhere either. These are people with money to spend, and we estimated there could be tens of trillions of rupiahs. We want them to spend the money here,” Pandjaitan said.

According to Umrah tour operators, about 1 million Indonesians travel to Saudi Arabia for the pilgrimage each year, with many of them also visiting other sites in the region.

The COVID-19 outbreak has shattered Indonesia’s target to welcome 17 million foreign visitors this year, dealing a major blow to its national revenue.

According to Adnyana, tourism in Bali alone contributed 120 trillion to 150 trillion rupiahs ($10 billion) a year to the country’s coffers.

He also expressed concerns that the pandemic may still affect the government’s plans to revive the industry through domestic tourism as many potential travelers may be unable to make trips to other parts of the country amid concerns of contracting the disease and internal restrictions imposed as part of the response to contain the virus.

On Friday, President Joko Widodo said in his 2021 budget speech before the parliament that 14.4 trillion rupiahs would be allocated for the tourism industry’s recovery with a focus on developing several main destinations: Lake Toba in North Sumatra; Borobudur Temple in Central Java; Mandalika in Lombok island; Labuan Bajo on the Flores island, which serves as a gateway to see the Komodo dragon on Komodo Island and Mount Kelimutu, which has three volcanic crater lakes of different colors; and Likupang Beach in North Sulawesi.

This story has been updated from its original in Arab News

Firebrand cleric Abu Bakar Ba’asyir had his sentence cut

Jailed radical cleric Abu Bakar Ba’asyir, who is serving a 15-year jail term for supporting a militant camp, received a five-month sentence cut earlier this year for good behaviour, his lawyer said.

“He had his sentence cut in February. Those who are granted prison sentence cuts must have met the requirements, including good behavior,” Ba’asyir’s lawyer from the Muslim Defenders Team (TPM) Achmad Michdan told The Parrot on Tuesday.

Penitentiaries directorate general official had said Ba’asyir, who was convicted of supporting militant training in Aceh in 2010, did not have his sentence cut earlier because he had not served at least a third out of his prison term. Sentence cuts are normally granted to convicts on religious holidays and Independence Day.

Ba’asyir was transferred to Gunung Sindur prison in West Java from the Nusakambangan prison island on April 16 so that the ailing 77-year-old cleric could receive better medical treatment.

His lawyers claimed that Ba’asyir was treated inhumanely in Nusakambangan and was kept in an isolation cell,  preventing him from praying with other inmates including the obligatory Friday prayers for men.

“How could a [Muslim] man be banned from performing Friday prayers?” another TPM lawyer Akhmad Kholid said.

“He is just an old man who doesn’t want to engage in violence. He is actually very tolerant when it comes to worldly stuff. He only strongly protested recently because he was not allowed to pray,” Akhmad added.

Chief security and political affairs minister Luhut Pandjaitan rejected claims that prison warden had denied Ba’asyir’s right to perform his religious rituals. During a press briefing last week, Luhut showed journalists photos of the cleric’s cell block in Gunung Sindur, which he said was spacious enough for him to pray and “sit for a cup of tea”.

“Don’t report as if we violated his rights to pray. It was not like that at all. We only enforced prison regulation. He was not barred from praying, we just didn’t allow him to give sermons to his fellow inmates and previous experience showed it caused radicalisation,” Luhut said.

Bashir was in the process of court hearings in Cilacap, Central Java to challenge his sentence. The first hearing took place just two days before the suicide bomb attack in Jakarta on January 14. Police said the perpetrators were former jailed militants who were radicalized during their incarceration.

Akhmad denied that the attackers had visited Bashir in Nusakambangan before bombing a Starbucks café and a police station in Central Jakarta.

“He was taken to an isolation cell after attending a court hearing in February and remained there until he was transferred to Gunung Sindur,” Akhmad said.

 

 

Rights groups reiterated calls for Indonesia to end death penalty

A year since the Indonesian government carried out the first round of executions on drug offenders, international and national right activists reiterated their calls on the government to impose a moratorium on executions.

In an open letter to Coordinating Minister for Politics, Legal and Security Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan, international rights watchdog Amnesty International (AI) and nine rights advocacy group in Indonesia said the moratorium would be the first step towards abolishing death penalty in the country.

They also urged the administration of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to establish an independent body or mandate an existing one to review cases where people have been sentenced to death.

“With a view of commuting the death sentences or in cases where the procedures were seriously flawed, offer a retrial that fully complies with international fair trial standards and which does not resort to death penalty,” the rights advocates wrote in their letter to Luhut dated 18 January, 2015 or a year after the first round of executions.

The Attorney General office said last year they have prepared a list of 14 death row inmates – not all of them are drug convicts – who will face the firing squad this year, but they have not set a date yet for the executions. In November, Luhut said that the government has put on hold any plans for executions as they were concentrating on fixing the sluggish economy.

The government carried out executions on six drug convicts, including five foreigners in January last year and another one in late April 2015, when eight drug offenders including seven foreigners were executed in Central Java’s prison island of Nusa Kambangan. The executions resulted in a diplomatic rifts with countries whose citizens were killed, including Australia.

The third round of executions would likely include two Europeans, French man Serge Atlaoui and British grandmother 59-year-old Lindsay Sandiford, as well as a Filipino woman Mary Jane Veloso.

The latter was granted a last-minute reprieve from the firing squad in April to allow her to testify against suspects in the Philippines who allegedly duped her into being a drug mule after promising her a job overseas. Sandiford was sentenced to death in 2012 after she was caught smuggling drugs into Bali. Atlaoui lost his last-ditch appeal to avoid execution after Jakarta’s State Administrative Court rejected his appeal challenging the president’s decision to deny his clemency request.

In the wake of last year’s executions, the European Union (EU) strongly criticised Indonesia’s use of death penalty to deal with drug offenders as regrettable, but Jokowi has pledged not to relent in his war on drugs, saying that Indonesia is facing a drug emergency and the problem required “serious and urgent measures.”

Director of Brussels-based think tank EU- Asia Centre, Dr. Fraser Cameron said the EU always has a strong position against death penalty because it is one of the fundamental principles of the EU.

“Death penalty doesn’t work. That’s why many countries abolished it,” Cameron told a group of visiting Asian journalists, including The Parrot, in Brussels recently.

“There is no evidence that death penalty is a deterrent and in terms of basic human rights, it is simply unacceptable,” he said, adding that there is always the possibility  an innocent person would be executed as it has happened before in many countries.

He also said that the EU don’t overlook this matter even when forging cooperation with big economies such the United States or China and would lobby against death penalty not just with Indonesia, but also other countries that still have it in their legal system.

AI said that 140 countries are abolitionist in law or practice.

“The resumption of of executions in Indonesia have not only set Indonesia against its international obligations but also against the global trend towards abolition of the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment,” the rights advocates said in the letter.

Meanwhile, Mary Jane Veloso had some family time when her parents and two sons visited her in a Yogyakarta prison to celebrate her 31st birthday last week.

“Her family still maintains hope that Mary Jane could return home and reunite with the family,” her lawyer Agus Salim said.