Editorial

Editorial (197)

31
August

European Union -EU and Iranian relations after the United States left the joint Nuclear Agreement do not appear to be getting closer. Earlier after United States President Donald Trump decided not to continue the Nuclear Agreement with Iran, the European Union sought to be  unable to be consistent with the previous stance. One of the European Union member countries that started to stay away from Iran is France. In an internal order, the French government asked its foreign ministry diplomats and officials to postpone indefinitely all unimportant trips to Iran. The plan of a bomb attack on protests by Iranian opposition groups near Paris, and a change in Tehran's attitude, are the causes of a change in France's stance  towards Iran. France is one of the countries supporting Iran's nuclear agreement in 2015. With  other European countries, it  tried to help Iran ease the impact of US sanctions. Iran's economy, which has improved, is now hit by the imposition of US sanctions. After no longer receiving support from the European Union, Iran is also ready to issue a statement to be  no longer committed to the Nuclear Agreement. Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stressed Iran is ready to abandon the agreement. Even, Iran does not hesitate to end  the agreement it if is no longer in line with the country’s  interests. According to Khamenei, Iran should not depend on Europe despite promises from Europe. In addition to outside pressure, President Mohamad Khatami is also facing a crisis, because Iranian Parliament has sacked the Minister of Labor and Finance. There are still two ministers who will face the same fate. The world witnessed a way out when the United States and Europe signed a Nuclear Joint Agreement with Iran. But now, the hope of solving this problem is getting further away. If left unchecked, problems in the Middle East region will be increasingly complicated. Of course, this is not expected to occur.

29
August

Indonesia's closest southeastern neighbor, Australia, has a new Head of Government. The country is now led by a new Prime Minister, Scott Morrison who replaced Malcolm Turnbull through an internal election of the ruling Liberal Party.  The substitution made Australia the country that most often changes Prime Minister in a relatively short time. In about eight years, the Prime Minister in Australia has changed five times. Nevertheless, it must be noted that the change of leadership has taken place in a peaceful atmosphere without turmoil and riots. The series of Prime Minister changes began when Kevin Rudd of the Australian Labor Party defeated John Howard of the Liberal Party. After just ruling for about 3 years, Rudd was replaced by Julia Gilard, who was his own deputy. Julia Gulard won a vote carried out inside the Labor party which was then in power in Parliament. The internal upheaval of the Labor party happened again, about 3 years later there was another internal turmoil in the Labor Party which encouraged the election of the Leader. In Labor Party internal voting, Kevin Rudd was re-elected and therefore became the Prime Minister again for the second time. For political reasons, Kevin Rudd then dissolved Parliament which resulted in the holding of the Federal Election in 2013. Through the elections the majority of voters supported the Liberal Party which made Tonny Abott the 28th Australian Prime Minister. About two years in power due to internal conflicts of the Liberal party, Abbott was challenged by one of the Ministers, Malcolm Turnbull in an internal vote until Turnbull finally won the majority of the votes and became prime minister. It wasn't until three years later, Trunbull seemed to taste his own medicine after  his political intrigue of toppling  Tony Abbot. Five days ago,  in an internal vote he was overthrown by one of his  ministers, Scott Morrisson. It seems that for Australia the frequent change of Prime Minister is no longer considered extraordinary. The law of  the country allows to  change the Prime Minister before the term of office expires, insofar as the internal ruling Party agrees. The party's internal coup  anyway, did not cause turmoil in the community. However,  as an observer said, the change in the reins of government can be seen as  an internal instability of the ruling Party, whether it’s  the Labor Party or the Liberal Party. As the closest neighbor, Indonesia certainly monitors developments in Australia. Because after all the change of each leader will certainly have an impact on policy changes, including the perspective and foreign policy of Australia. Time has noted that the relations between Indonesia and Australia had experienced ups and downs. Australia's new Prime Minister, Scott Morrsion, for instance,  had caused controversy when he was still serving as Immigration minister in 2014. He caused the relationship between Australia and Indonesia heated up. His policy of repatriating asylum seekers made the Indonesian people angry  for forcibly repatriating two Indonesian immigrants. Indonesia  is  still looking forward to how the new Australian Prime Minister who  BBC UK calls a pragmatic figure will act.

27
August

Indonesian nation and Asian sports’ enthusiasts are still focusing their attention on the 2018 Asian Games. There are several days left to the end of the 18th Asian Games. A number of countries have obtained half of the 462 gold medals. The People’s Republic of China dominates the achievement of gold medals. Various records have been made during the event. For example, the Japanese swimming team broke a new record at the 2018 Asian Games with 3 minutes 3.54 seconds on the 4x100 meter women’s medley relay category. Weightlifting sports category also engraved another world record at the 2018 Asian Games. Iranian athlete, Sohrab Moradi successfully lifted 189 kilograms defeating the 188 kilograms record made by Greece’s athlete, Akakios Kakiasvilis in 1999. Indonesian people, particularly in Jakarta and Palembang greatly express their attention to Indonesian athletes. Sense of pride is getting sharpened in them. The pride is due to not only the success of hosting a spectacular opening ceremony inviting positive reactions from the international world, but also the achievement of gold medals approaching the targeted number, namely 16 gold medals. Until the 9th day, Sunday (26th of August) Indonesian contingents have contributed 12 gold medals. Muhammad Sejahtera Dwi Putra also won silver medal on the shooting category. This is the first medal received by Indonesia on the shooting category since its last time in 1966. By the achievement of those medals, currently       Indonesia is one the 10 biggest countries at the event. One target has been achieved. The next one is to fulfill the target of 16 gold medals. Should Indonesia be satisfied with the number of the medals it accomplished? Especially, the achievement has surpassed the quantity of medals obtained in 2014. At the 17th Asian Games, Indonesia could only gain 4 gold medals, 5 silver medals, and 11 bronze medals. To strive for better result, one should not be quickly satisfied. Likewise, Indonesian contingents should not be satisfied with their achievements at the 2018 Asian Games. However, at least their efforts and hard work done for the past 4 years have led to progress. Until last night, Indonesia has achieved 12 gold medals, 12 silver medals, and 24 bronze medals. Indonesian contingents have dedicated their best to contribute medals for Indonesia. Moreover, Indonesian contingents received many supports from a lot of parties. Take for example as a tribute to Indonesian athletes, Indonesian Ministry of Youth and Sports attended matches to give support for the athletes. Even, President Joko Widodo also attended several final rounds. The supports will ignite the spirit of Indonesian athletes to compete at the competitions. The progress achieved by Indonesian contingents has encouraged the sense of pride of Indonesian people toward the organizing of the 2018 Asian Games. The success of presenting a remarkable opening ceremony, being an incredible host, and producing outstanding achievements will mark new history for the organizing of the Asian Games. Hopefully, the achievements gained at the 18th Asian Games will encourage Indonesian athletes to foster better achievement in the future. There are still a lot of sport events that Indonesia should participate in such as the 2020 Olympiad. The remarkable achievements at the 2018 Asian Games is expected to motivate Indonesia to be the leader in Asia, just like the record established at the 1962 Asian Games when Indonesia stood on the second place. We hope Indonesian sports will continue to improve better.

24
August

After prolonged conflict and avoidance of direct meeting with the Afghan government, finally with the Russian initiative, the Taliban is willing to carry out negotiation. Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov said that he had invited the Taliban and confirmed that the Taliban will meet with Kabul government in Moscow on September 4. This Russian initiative is aimed to solve not only the problem in Afghanistan, but also as part of Moscow's efforts to protect the interests of its citizens in Afghanistan. However, the presence of the Taliban is not without conditions. The Taliban still wants the United States to attend the meeting. Russia said that in addition to the two conflicting parties, it would also invite China, Pakistan, India, Iran and the United States. The crisis in Afghanistan should have been resolved a long time ago if the Taliban did not insist that they only want to negotiate with the United States. Even today, they are still reluctant to negotiate with the Kabul government. There is a change in attitude from the Taliban.  They complied with the ceasefire proposed by Kabul during Idul Fitri. Last Sunday (August 19, 2018), the Afghan government offered again a ceasefire to the Taliban until the upcoming Prophet's birthday celebration. Now, hope is beginning to arise with the Taliban's willingness to negotiate with the Afghan Government. Currently, the Taliban actually have begun to open themselves with outsiders through their political office in Qatar. Even, Taliban representatives also reportedly met with a senior official of the US Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Alice Wells. Although the meeting was not publicly admitted by the US. The United States argues that there is no resolution to the Afghan problem without involving the Kabul government. Although the planned meeting will take place several days to come, it is a piece of hope for the realization of peace in Afghanistan. Indonesia has also attempted to arrange a meeting for both conflicting parties some time ago. Is it possible that the meeting will take place in Indonesia and continue to Moscow? And finally, both sides will obtain resolution to stop the 17-year conflict and start the reconciliation step. Let’s see and wait next outcome of the meeting in early September.

23
August

LOMBOK REVIVED

Since the first earthquake 6.4 on Richter scale to 6.9 SR on August 19 on Lombok Island and surrounding areas has caused more than 500 people killed, more than 400 thousand people displaced, and more than 74 thousand units of houses were damaged. The estimated loss would reach Rp 7.7 trillion.

Seeing the impact of the Lombok earthquake, many parties proposed that the situation has to be declared a national disaster. However, the government considers that this is not necessary to decide the Lombok disaster as a national disaster. Then, a lot of people have questioned the government's policy.

Regarding the polemic, Head of the Information Data Center and Public Relations of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency -BNPB, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho explained the matter of determining national disaster. The determination must be based on five main variables: the number of victims, loss of property, damage to infrastructure and facilities, wide coverage of areas affected by disasters, and the socio-economic impacts.

Sutopo believes that the indicators are not enough. There are fundamental indicators that are difficult to measure -the condition of the existence and function of the regional government whether it is collapsed or not. The 2004 Aceh tsunami was designated as a national disaster at that time because the regional government, both provincial and district/city, including the central elements in Aceh such as the Kodam and the Regional Police was totally paralyzed. The government later declared the national disaster. The risk is that all tasks of the regional government are taken over by the central government, including the general government.

With the existence of national disaster status, the door is open as wide as possible for international humanitarian assistance by other countries and the international community. This is a consequence of the Geneva Convention. New problems related to international assistance often arise, because it involves political, economic, social, cultural, defense and security matters. So, there are consequences if the Indonesian government determines the national disaster status. Sutopo added, since the 2004 Aceh tsunami until now, there has been no disaster in Indonesia which has been declared a national disaster. Because, the Indonesian people have learned a lot from the experience of handling the 2004 Aceh tsunami.

Indeed, disasters with casualties are quite likely to be discouraged that the central government establishes a national disaster. Many parties may not understand the disaster management as a whole, including determining the status and level of the disaster. They assume that with national disaster status, there will be easy access to national resources. But the fact is that even without national disaster status, the government has mobilized all national resources. A lot of personnel from central elements such as Indonesian Armed Forces -TNI, National Police -Polri, National SAR Agency -Basarnas, and related state ministries have been deployed on the hit locations. Huge logistical assistance from the government agencies and community has also been sent to Lombok.

The Indonesian nation must be united. Disasters are humanitarian affairs. Let’s get rid of differences in ideology, politics, religion, and others to help the disaster victims. The Lombok community needs the help of all parties. National energy must be united to help the people of Lombok. Without the status of the national disaster, the Lombok disaster is also the disaster of Indonesian nation.

22
August

The 2018 Asian Games have succeeded in bringing together two Koreas, namely North Korea and South Korea in the spirit of sportsmanship in the Asian Games. The Indonesian people certainly should be happy with what has happened. The two Korean contingents went hand in hand during the athletes parade. From the faces of the athletes can be seen  a reflection of happiness. The 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia, is taking  place along with a series of diplomatic efforts, including those carried out by the United States and North Korea. Starting from the Summit in Singapore, North Korea and the United States continued diplomatic efforts. Follow-up meetings have been conducted not only in the context of denuclearization of North Korea but towards the reconciliation of the two Koreas. This week there was also a touching event, some  South Koreans made a visit  to North Korea to meet their long lost family members. The senior Koreans were separated and live in different places  due to the civil war that occurred at the end of the second world war. Indonesia is recorded in history related to the unification and reconciliation of the people  which have been separated,  even fought each other. In the 80s for instance,  Indonesia had become the initiator of the unification of Cambodia. The Jakarta Informal Meeting among the warring factions was held in Bogor, West Java in the Suharto era. It was continued with further meetings and ended very well with the unification of Cambodia. Reflecting on historical experience, the momentum of the 2018 Asian Games held in Jakarta is a good time to contribute to the reconciliation of the two Koreas. As a good host, Indonesia can make the Asian Games a momentum for realization of  lasting peace in the Korean Peninsula.

17
August

Lira Crisis in Turkey

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Published in Editorial

 

In a fairly short time, the value of the Turkish currency, Lira, has fallen by 16%. This has happened since US President Donald Trump, imposed the import tariff for Turkish steel and aluminum twice as much as before. This action was taken by Trump, after Turkey refused to  release a US priest,  Andrew Brunson, who was detained by the Turkish government for allegedly being involved in a coup 2 years ago. Before the imposition of sanctions, the US had frozen  the assets of two Turkish ministers. This was followed by Turkey in retaliation and did the same thing  to two US ministers.

After the imposition of US sanctions, Turkey immediately imposed import tariffs  more than 100 percent on products such as vehicles, alcoholic beverages, and more than 50 percent on 3 other types of products from the US. The United States is planning  to cancel the sale of super-advanced F-35 aircraft to Turkey.

Some policies were immediately taken by the Central Bank of Turkey to keep the value of the Lira from falling further. But the move cannot stop the decline in Lira. When the Turkish economy is facing problems, Qatar appears as a savior. In a meeting between Turkish President Racip Tayyip Erdogan and the Emir of Qatar, Sheik Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani in Ankara on Wednesday (August 15, 2018), Qatar promised a substantial investment.

Meanwhile, in a statement on Twitter's social media account, Turkish  presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin revealed, Qatar promised a direct investment of 15 billion US dollars. Whereas before, as an  ally of the United States, Qatar had not reacted when Turkey was sanctioned by the US. Before experiencing a crisis of a decrease in the value of Lira, Turkey was also rocked by a decline in the number of tourist visits during the coup in 2016. While  every year the country records  no less than 40 million tourists visit. On the other hand, when there is a decline in Lira's value lately, tourists seem to get a blessing, because the price of international branded goods sold in Turkey also falls according to the decline in lira value against the US dollar.

The crisis that occurred in Turkey due to  US import tariffs was also experienced by several other countries. The era of globalization that causes interrelationships between countries, can make the crisis in Turkey also spread to other countries and regions. Of course, it is not expected that this crisis will occur in a long time. The question is, will  the United States continue to impose tariffs on Turkey until the country frees the detained US citizen? The world looks forward to the end of this drama.

16
August

 

According to the Central Statistics Agency -BPS, Indonesia's trade balance in July 2018 experienced a deficit worth $2.03 billion dollars, the biggest deficit over the last five years. This figure is the difference between the import value worth $18.27 billion dollars and the export value worth $16.24 billion dollars. The total trade deficit in January to July 2018 was recorded at $3.09 billion dollars.

In a press conference attended by Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Darmin Nasution, and Governor of Bank Indonesia –BI, Perry Warjiyo, after a limited cabinet meeting at the Presidential Office in Jakarta on Tuesday (14/8), Minister of Finance, Sri Mulyani Indrawati pointed out that the government would take drastic and decisive steps in import control related to the balance of payments conditions that are increasingly unhappy. 

Minister Sri Mulyani said that Indonesia's current account deficit in the first quarter of 2018 was only around 2%. But in the second quarter of 2018, it reached 3% of gross domestic product -GDP. Imports of consumer goods, raw materials and capital goods increased seriously in the second quarter of 2018.

Head of the Central Statistics Agency, Suhariyanto said in Jakarta on Wednesday (8/15) that one of the government's efforts to reduce the trade balance deficit is by reducing the import of commodities that can be produced domestically. There will be 500 commodities to be re-evaluated, especially commodities with high local goods compared to imported ones, such as palm oil, paper, rubber and plastic. 

Meanwhile, an economist at the Institute for Development of Economics and Finance (Indef), Bhima Yudhistira remarked that Indonesia's trade balance deficit could be depleted by the end of 2018 if the government seriously halts the import of raw materials for infrastructure projects, such as iron steel and power plant turbines. The government also needs to accelerate the implementation of 20% biodiesel utilization (B20) in the fuel content, so that oil and gas imports can be reduced.

Similarly, Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs, Darmin Nasution at a Business Lunch event with the theme "Indonesian Economy Alert in Political Year" on Thursday (2/8) in Jakarta said that the expansion of 20% Biodiesel use (B20) could reduce the trade balance deficit, because with this policy, oil imports will be reduced. The oil and gas deficit during Semester I 2018 reached $5.4 billion dollars.

In addition to efforts to reduce imports, Bhima Yudhistira hoped that the government will again push the export performance of leading commodities such as palm oil and rubber. He urged the government to provide incentives for export-oriented industries.

It is expected that more quality local products can be exported abroad, and many Indonesian imports will be reduced. So, the value of exports will be much higher than the import value, and the trade balance deficit can be immediately overcome.

15
August

Will the armistice in the Gaza Strip really come true? This question is really relevant, related to the issue of the ceasefire which is now being discussed in the Israeli government. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on Sunday, has expressed a desire for a ceasefire with Palestine in the Gaza Strip. The Jerusssalem Post newspaper, August 13 reported that Netanyahu's statement was before the Israeli Prime Minister led his cabinet meeting.  Netanyahu's wish was raised, shortly after the Israeli army bombarded the Gaza region. Not less than 168 Palestinians died from the increasingly tense conflict in the Gaza Strip which was triggered by the transfer of the Israeli capital to Jerusalem. Israel is increasingly aggressive in  its attacks by deploying air forces to the Palestinian territories in Gaza Strip on Wednesday and Thursday, August 8-9, 2018. In the armed conflict, many   Palestinians died including children  and pregnant women. At least 170 points have become Israeli air strike targets  on the August 8 attacks. The Palestinians, in this case the  Hamas,  who occupy the Gaza Strip, responded that the ceasefire has actually been carried out. The Hamas fighters stated that the two sides had actually done it  since last week. Hamas stated that the ceasefire was carried out thanks to the Egyptian participation. The facts on the ground indeed show that at the end of last week, there were no more attacks by the Israeli air force. Regarding Egypt's participation as stated by Hamas, it is justified by the news that actually Prime Minister Netanyahu was secretly visiting Egypt. Israeli television reported that Netanyahu last May met up with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi regarding a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip. The question is, is it  true that a ceasefire will occur between the Israeli military and the Palestinian Hamas and there will  be no more  civilians become  victims? The statement of the Israeli Prime Minister before the cabinet meeting earlier this week may become  a sign that for the first time a ceasefire was seriously discussed in a cabinet meeting. If this commitment manifests, the fear of a re-open war between Israel and Palestinian Hamas, as happened in 2008, can be avoided.

13
August

The 18th Asian Games participants have arrived in Indonesia. Even, some of them have already held a match, such as football sports. On Sunday (12/8), Palestinian team won the match against the Laos team in the match of Group A. In another match, Indonesian team also managed to defeat China Taipei team. Athletes from other sports have arrived in Jakarta and Palembang. Currently, there are at least 467 athletes and officials from 34 countries who stay at Kemayoran Athlete's Housing (Wisma Atlit) in Jakarta. The contingents from the Philippines, Malaysia, Syria, the People's Republic of North Korea, the United Arab Emirates and others have arrived. Officially, the 18th Asian Games will be opened on Saturday, August 18, 2018 at Bung Karno Sports Center. Indonesia's hard work to have prepared the entire arena of competition and facilities for more than three years will soon be felt and assessed by the contingents from 45 other Asian countries and even the world. At least, positive assessments for Kemayoran Athletes' Housing have been issued by Vice President of the ASIA Olympic Honorary, Wei Jizhong. Through his press release, after visiting Kemayoran Athlete's Housing on last Saturday (11/8), Wei Jizhong said that he was satisfied with the athletes' lodging facilities. He said that overall, the Athletes Village in Kemayoran has exceeded his expectations. Being satisfied with the facilities, a number of athletes also expressed the same statement. Director of the Athlete Village and Village Service Department, Andrewan Inggog Trina Ananta said that a number of new residents of the Athlete's Housing also stated that they were happy with all services, such as pick-up, meals, and hospitality. It is still too soon to find out the comments of all the participants in all 2018 Asian Games facilities. But at least, good comments at the beginning of the implementation motivated Indonesia to provide more services for all contingents. Not all athletes and official teams feel and enjoy the results of Indonesia's efforts to prepare for the four-year Asian sporting event, because the peak attendance of participants is predicted to occur on August 14-17. Providing the best has become the determination of the Indonesian people for the Asian Games. To expedite the traffic flow from Athletes' Housing to the arena of matches, the even-odd policy has been applied. This policy is carried out so that athletes can arrive on time at the arena. Indonesia, which is famous for its hospitality, will be proven by all participants. A deeply good impression for all participants is the wish of the Indonesian nation. Hopefully, the 2018 Asian Games will be one of the best performances during the Asian Games. Welcome and have nice competition for the participants of the 2018 Asian Games!

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