Editorial

Editorial (399)

21
March

The Central Election Commission of Russia, Sunday, March 18, reported that 67 percent of voters cast their ballots in the recent election in Russia. Of the transient calculations more than than 75 percent have chosen Vladimir Putin. Although the overall counting is still ongoing, observers have confirmed the former KGB member, the secret service in the Soviet Era, for the third time will rule Russia again  for the next 6 years, setting aside 7 other candidates.

Putin's victory has generated mixed reactions from world leaders. As quoted from Deutche Welle, Vladimir Putin's re-election has aroused mixed feelings across Germany, including at the highest levels of political power. In a government press conference on Monday, 19 March, German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said that German Chancellor Angela Merkel would send congratulations on Putin's victory. While Chinese leader Xi Jinping was quoted as saying by XInhua, in addition to congratulating Putin  on the victory, also said China is eager to cooperate with Russia, and improve relations between the two countries to a higher level.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said Venezuela would improve bilateral ties with Russia after Putin's election victory, especially in the field of international policy for the creation of world peace. Opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was banned from taking part in the election, had earlier asked his supporters to boycott a vote he called "fake". He claimed to have sent more than 33,000 observers across the country and said there had been "unprecedented violations".

However, Russia's election commission rejects allegations of fraud.  It is said that the emergence of Putin after the collapse of the Soviet Union was predicted by the famous French astrologer Nostradamus in the 15th century. According to that forecast, there will be a leader in Russia who will bring back the glory of the Soviet Union with the same characteristics of the former KGB agent. Regardless of whether or not the prediction is true, the world hopes that Putin's victory can provide a real contribution to world peace. Because after the end of the cold war era, the hegemony of western power seemed to dominate. Almost all western countries contribute to the peace program at the UN in the area of ​​conflict areas ranging from the Middle East to Asian countries. Russia does seem to be very eager to play a role in resolving world conflicts. In addition, the stability of the region becomes the political program of the Russian President-elect in the future. This is suspected as an attempt to restore glory as a superpower.

20
March

Who does not want to take a morning walk with number-one person in this country? Perhaps, every citizen dreams of it. Taking a walk while having conversation with the head of the State is certainly not a regular moment. A number of Indonesians in Australia and New Zealand got the opportunity. They took a morning walk with President Joko Widodo.

 

In a busy schedule to visit Australia and New Zealand, President Joko Widodo took the morning walk with 18 young people from several areas in Indonesia's Indonesia-Australia Youth Interfaith Dialogue in Sydney. The morning walk was interspersed with various things, including music and sports that the President liked. In particular, President Joko Widodo delivered a message to them to be agents of tolerance and peace who could tell about Indonesia's diverse ethnic, diverse religions, diverse regional languages ​​but Indonesia is still one to a great nation.

 

In New Zealand, the morning walk was the first agenda of President Joko Widodo. 29 Indonesian students in New Zealand, including 15 from Papua, had the opportunity to accompany President Joko Widodo in the morning around the Water Front. In a casual discussion after taking a walk, various topics were discussed; thanksgiving from the Papuan youths was expressed to President Joko Widodo who pays special attention to Papua.

 

Why does President Joko Widodo choose the morning walk as a media to discuss with the youths? Of course, there are many reasons. President Joko Widodo is fond of the morning walk. It could be another reason for wanting to start the day with a good one. An exciting walk without a tight security and a relaxed conversation can be a medium to know the problems that occur in the community. In a relaxed and fresh mood, complaints, ideas, suggestions, or criticisms can be presented openly. Possibly, what is expressed can be a tool for further discussion in a more formal forum.

 

The morning walk is not just used by President Joko Widodo to meet with local people. One year ago, a 30-minute morning walk with Australian Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull around the Sydney Opera House became part of his visit to Australia. Diplomacy of the morning walk has become one of the powerful ways to improve the relationship between the two countries in the future.

 

On several occasions, President Joko Widodo did use morning-time moments to meet directly with local communities. 

 

The time that he spends is not too long to see and meet directly with the public through the morning walk, and this can be additional information for each policy that he will decide. The move can also be done by the regional heads, such as governors, mayors and regents to find out the real problems in the area he or she leads. The morning walk of President Joko Widodo not only gives a healthy effect to his body, but also makes Indonesian nation healthier.

19
March

President Joko Widodo continues to promote the concept of Indo-Pacific to ASEAN member countries and Australia. During his visit to Australia attending ASEAN-Australia Summit 2018 on 15-18 March 2018, President Joko Widodo did not forget to disclose the concept of Indo Pacific. Minister of Foreign Affairs, Retno Marsudi explained in Sydney, Australia on Sunday (18/3/2018) that the purpose of the concept, which is the President focuses on strengthening cooperation in the Indian Ocean, is based on strong cooperation in the Asia Pacific region.

What and how exactly is the Indo-Pacific Concept?

The concept of Indo Pacific has become a major issue since President Joko Widodo visited India early in 2018. In the ASEAN-India Summit in Rasthrapati Bhawan, India, last January, President Joko Widodo revealed the concept of the Indo-Pacific region. It is through a mechanism led by ASEAN and through ASEAN-India partnership. President Joko Widodo believes that a peaceful, stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific region can be achieved. He further said that the Indo-Pacific concept can naturally be developed based on the ASEAN Cooperation and Cooperation Treaty where all the important countries in the region have become related stakeholders to the agreement.

When called by US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson on January 15, 2018, Minister Retno Marsudi expressed the same thing. Similarly, when US Defense Secretary, Jim Mattis visited Indonesia shortly thereafter, Minister Retno again pointed out the idea of ​​the Indonesian government to explore more intense international relations in the Indian Ocean, which so far has not been fully regulated.

Indonesia expects the Indo-Pacific region will become one of the main sources of economic growth, trade and industry center of the world. The concept of the Indo-Pacific region was also raised in the annual press speech of Minister Retno Marsudi at the Foreign Ministry Building in Jakarta in early January.

Indonesia is in consultation with ASEAN. Even soon, it will be hosting "one and the half-track diplomacy" which discusses about the Indo Pacific.

The main point of the Indo-Pacific concept that Indonesia has offered is the concept that promotes dialogue and cooperation, instead of competing against one another in which ultimately, the competition will bring about disadvantage for all parties. This concept is jointly shared and no country feels left behind or abandoned by Indonesia.

16
March

 

British Prime Minister, Theresa May announced plans for the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats in a speech to Parliament on last Tuesday (March 13). The allegations for them are quite serious; Russia spies. The move is  the biggest action taken by UKwithin 30 years. Prime Minister May decided to take firm action because she considered Russia would  not clarify its  involvement in attempted murder of former Russian agent living in Britain, Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, using Novichok poison, known used to be produced in the Soviet Union.

In addition, PM May also decided to halt all royal officials’ visits to Russia, including for watching the 2018 World Cup match in Russia. Obviously, this is not a trivial  accusation. The challenge for PM Theresa May is to prove what she alleges is true.

Russia through its Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov's statement, clearly denied British accusations of masterminding attacks on Sergei Skripal. The rebuttal was also delivered by Russian Ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia who considered the attack to be a provocation against Russia ahead of the World Cup and Presidential Election.Russia must provethat Russian side is  clear of involvement in the attack. However, before   the investigation is complete, Russia has threatened to also expel British diplomats in Russia.

In this regard, England is not alone. The British ally, the United States also opened the issue in the official UN forum on Wednesday (14 March), after UK  urged a meeting of the UN Security Council. The United States considers that Russia is responsible.US Ambassador to the UN, Nicky Haley called for Russia's accountability and President Donald Trump asked Russia to respond. The United States had also expelled Russian diplomats some time ago.

Hopefully, the British investigation can reveal the case and explain whether there are any involvements of other countries. Britain could have expelled Russian diplomats, but Russia could also retaliate. Expelling each other’s diplomats is, of course, causing more problems instead of solving it.

15
March

 

The great event of the democratic party of both legislative and presidential elections in Indonesia is still one year ahead. But the atmosphere of competition has begun. After the announcement of the political parties to participate in the General Election some time ago, the public are enlivened with discussions about the political maneuvers, such as the possibility of any party that will dominate the acquisition of votes and the candidates of vice president and president to challenge the incumbent. In the discussions, there is a classical story about a new political party –Working Party (Partai Berkarya) led by Hutomo Mandala Putra alias Tommy wanting to raise the name of Indonesian second President Soeharto. This new political party’s symbol is almost similar with Golkar Party which was the political vehicle of past ruling government during New Order. In addition, Tommy's presence as the chairperson clearly indicates that Soeharto's name would be his political commodity. Party Secretary General of Partai Berkarya, Baddarudin Andi Picunang admitted that his party will adopt successful programs in the New Order era.

Although some people underestimate the presence of Partai Berkarya, it is interesting to observe to what extent the new political party's action is in the election later. Entering reform era, some old political parties and Suharto’s family have lost their sympathy. However, the recent results of several surveys mention that Suharto was a successful president. So, this can be interpreted that the memory of some people about the Five Star General who had been in power for 32 years is still strongly implanted in their mind in some remote areas across Indonesia. At least, this is visible with the fulfillment of the provisions of the number of Board members and members of the Working Party throughout Indonesia, as a condition to follow the election. Is that a proof? Tommy was imprisoned from 2002 to 2006 for some crimes, such as plotting the murder of Supreme Court Justice, Syafiuddin Kartasasmita on July 26, 2001, possession of firearms and ammunition, and deliberate escaping. Now, he is chairing one of the political parties to participate in the 2019 presidential election.

It is not something new if the former president's son who had been marginalized eventually returns to the center of the political contestation in Indonesia. Likewise, Megawati Soekarnoputri, the daughter of the Indonesian first president, could also ultimately lead and raise one political party –PDIP that took her as the fourth president of Indonesia. Something impossible could be achieved in the New Order.

Now, the point is that how every political party either the new or old ones has to take the wisdom of what has happened. The life keeps going on. But positive aspects or goodness must be put forward. When someone is in power, he or she cannot forget the grass-root people. This must be a reference of the voters in determining who will lead this country. The former president's great name may be the political commodity of general elections’ participants. But constructive criticism must always come up. Because, a famed name is never enough to build a challenging future with different characteristics from one each other.

14
March

March 2018, will be a historic month for Indonesia in its effort to bring peace to Afghanistan. Ulema or Islamic clerics from Afghanistan will meet those  from Pakistan, including  from the Taliban, in Jakarta,  Indonesia. The meeting of clerics from the  three countries; Afghanistan, Pakistan and Indonesia, is a follow-up of President Joko Widodo and Vice President Yusuf Kalla’s visits  to Afghanistan some time ago.

The plan to gather the clerics from Afghanistan and Pakistan was discussed during a follow-up meeting between Vice President Yusuf Kala, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi and Central Executive of the Indonesian Ulema Council, last week. It was decided that not only from the governments but also from Taliban elements are to be invited in the upcoming meeting.As is known, armed conflict in Afghanistan has not subsided, especially with the presence of Taliban militia and the Daulah Islamiyah movement.

The question is, will the meeting in Jakarta immediately resolve the armed conflict and the violence that occurred in Afghanistan? Armed conflict in Afghanistan, does not involve the scholars directly. But this conflict has taken lots of casualties among  security forces, Taliban militia and Daulah Islamiyah jihadists as well as civilians. The presence of foreign parties in Afghanistan on the grounds of securing the situation, does not seem to solve the problem.

The conflict in Afghanistan continues to occur not only because of the political reason  but also due to the difference in  ideology or sects related to  Islam which  is the religion of that State. From the aspect of ideology or religious approach, it seems that the role of ulama needs to be optimized. In this perspective, although not necessarily solve the problem instantly, this inter-clerical meeting can be one way of realizing peace in Afghanistan. The clerics in Afghanistan and Pakistan can see the  condition in Indonesia as well as observing the role and position of ulama in maintaining a conducive situation in this predominantly Muslim country,

The results of the discussions and agreements to be  reached at the clerical meetings in Jakarta, could be a new starting point for further dialogue in Afghanistan, which will discuss technical issues and tactical strategies in realizing peace. Indonesia's credibility and experience in pioneering peace has been proven.In Cambodia for example, Indonesia succeeded in initiating peace talks that eventually were realized. In addition, the role of ulama in Indonesia in maintaining a condusive and united situation can also be a concrete example on how the ulama playing their roles.

13
March

 

The government of Indonesian is enthusiastically encouraging investment that is an important and supporting aspect of a country's economy. No wonder, it is attempting to increase both domestic and international investment. Therefore in addition to providing infrastructure, the government has also issued several economic policies since 2015. Until 2017, there have been sixteen volumes of policy packages; some of which are aimed at supporting and pushing investment.

In addition, the government through the Ministry of Finance is also finalizing four new regulations that will soon be ratified in coming weeks. The objective is to enhance investment as President Joko Widodo expressed in the target of economic growth in 2018. The four regulations are about tax holiday or tax incentives in the form of exemption of income tax, tax allowance or tax deduction; tax of small-medium enterprises -SMEs, and incentives for companies conducting research and development and vocation.

With its vast area, Indonesia does need a lot of capital to ensure all regions to get adequate fund for development. Besides, Indonesia is an archipelagic country, so development could be hampered due to access and mobility reasons. In fact, Indonesia has a wealth of nature and a very large potential. The strategic location between the two continents: Asia and Australia and the two oceans: India and the Pacific is also Indonesia's advantage in the international market. Therefore, the government is increasingly aware of the importance of foreign investment in the development of Indonesia. In addition to exploiting a large area, foreign investment may also bring about positive impacts on Indonesia.

The number of foreign investors coming and investing in Indonesia certainly cannot be separated from the attitude of the government in providing facilities and tax ease. How will foreign investors invest their capital in Indonesia, if the government imposes a burdensome tax system, especially if there is no adequate facility?

Even though foreign investment is needed to encourage and promote the Indonesian economy, it must be done in an orderly manner and in accordance with the investment regulations, instead of harming the country and the nation of Indonesia in the future. 

12
March

The administration of Joko Widodo and Jusuf Kalla is intensively building facility and infrastructure, such as the construction of toll roads, ports to industrial areas. President Joko Widodo has just inaugurated Java Integrated Industrial and Port Estate (JIIPE) and supporting ship of sea toll in Gresik, East Java more recently (9/3/2018).Currently, 10 new industrial areas are already in operation. In fact, there are three additional industrial areas following the completion of construction in 2018. The government targets that in 2018, the value of investment that can be drawn from 13 industrial areas spread across several regions in Indonesia reaches Rp250, 7 trillion.The development of an industrial estate is in line with one of the Nawacita programs, namely the nine prioritized agendas of the administration of Joko Widodo and Jusuf Kalla. The point is that the government builds Indonesia from the periphery by strengthening regions and villages within the framework of the unitary state of republic of Indonesia through increasing people's productivity and competitiveness. The development of an industrial estate is also a step by the government to reduce domestic economic inequality.Many benefits can be obtained through the industrial area in a region. In addition to attracting foreign investors to invest their funds in Indonesia, the development of industrial zone can also invite foreign investors to open branches and establish factories in the region. Thus, the export activity will increase and bring about positive impact on foreign exchange earnings and employment.Industrial zones are usually built outside the city center and on vast lands. This can reduce the dependency of the population to live and work in the city center. The flow of urbanization will be controlled and the equity of the population will also proceed well. The workforce is not focused in the city center, because the people will live around the industrial area. Of course, this will reduce the density of the population in the city and make the distribution of the population spread  in several areas.Industrial areas are also usually equipped with various facilities. The Java Integrated Industrial and Port Estate -JIIPE industrial area, for example, is the first integrated area in Indonesia and the largest in East Java with a total land reaching ​​about 3,000 hectares. Using the concept of merging industrial estates, ports and settlements is expected to absorb a lot of manpower and can lead to multiple impacts, such as the establishment of various supporting facilities.Industrial zones will not only affect the economy of business actors, but also will be able to move the economy of the community around the industrial area.Aside from a lot of benefits that can be enjoyed from the development of industrial zones, one thing that must be kept in mind is to pay attention to the principles of environmental sustainability that are oriented towards the welfare of the community. Do not let industrial zones cause environmental problems, such as increased air pollution from industrial smokes or water pollution from factory wastes. Industrial zones are built for the sake of equitable development and bring about more benefits not only to the government, but also to the people in general.

09
March

After a 10-year dispute, Timor Leste and Australia signed a maritime border agreement at UN Headquarters in New York, USA last Wednesday (March 7). This is a permanent agreement between the two countries, after a non-permanent one  that Timor-Leste deems very damaging. In the deal signed by Australian Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop and Timor Leste Deputy Prime Minister for Border Delimitation Affairs, Augusto Cabral, the two countries agreed to use the UNCLOS Convention on the Law of the Sea. Since separating  from Indonesia in 2002, East Timor has attempted to negotiate its maritime borders with Australia. Although assisted by Australia during the referendum, Timor Leste does not want to be dictated in maritime border affairs. For over 10 years since 2006, Timor Leste has fought and even brought this issue to the International Arbitration Tribunal for a fair decision. The injustice to Timor-Leste is due to the non-permanent border setting. The maritime borders of the two states were determined on the basis of the Australian continental shelf closer to Timor-Leste. With the implementation of UNCLOS, the maritime borders of the two states are the medians of their respective coastlines. The signing of this agreement became a victory for East Timorese diplomacy, and gave hope for the control of oil-and-gas rich sources in the Greater Sunrise region. Timor Leste will receive a larger share of revenue than Australia, depending on the concept of development. If oil and gas mining from Greater Sunrise is channeled to Timor Leste, its share is 70%. Conversely, if channeled to Australia for processing, East Timor gets 80%. Australia itself was willing to  sign this agreement, underlining that East Timor is also entitled to its economic potential. Indonesia through the Foreign Ministry spokesman, Armanatha Nasir welcomed the results of the bilateral talks and will study the details of the agreement once it is open. The efforts of the two states to conclude this treaty peacefully are worthy of respect, even though it had previously been strained by bringing the matter to the International Arbitration Tribunal. It is hoped that East Timor can develop its economy from natural resources. While  Australia, which is willing to release the part,  which was claimed based on the continental shelf of the country, also deserves appreciation. It is hoped that Indonesia and other countries with similar problems can solve their border disputes  peacefully as Timor Leste and Australia did.

08
March

 

March 8 is celebrated worldwide as International Women's Day. This celebration is a form of appreciation of women’s achievement in various fields, ranging from politics to social spheres. At the same time, the celebration also shows that a lot of homework has to be done. One of them is the level of violence against women.

International Women's Day has a long history of protests or demonstrations by women in America and Europe to demand their rights in the early 20th century. March 8 was chosen to commemorate the massive demonstrations and strikes by women that took place in Russia on 8th of March, 2017.

In 1977, International Women's Day was inaugurated as an annual celebration by the United Nations –UN to fight for women's rights and to realize world peace.

According to UN Women Watch, this year's theme is "Time is Now: Rural and urban activists transforming women's lives". This theme is inspired from the campaign #Metoo in the United States and other countries around the world such as France, Mexico, Italy, and even Arab countries. The campaign was conducted to show how widespread the incidence of violence and sexual harassment against women is, especially in the workplace which has happened so far. International Women's Day wants a movement to provide support to those who are victims of sexual harassment. In addition, this year's theme also wants the advocacy or legal assistance given to the survivors and punishment to the perpetrators.

One of the steps that can be taken to reduce violence against women is through empowerment. At the UN forum in New York in last September 2015, all member countries of the UN, including Indonesia along with UN Women launched ‘Planet 2030’. The target to be achieved in 2030 is gender equality 50:50 or conditions in which one country has created justice and equality between men and women in all aspects. This can be achieved by increasing the empowerment of women in various fields.

Empowerment is the key to eliminating violence and improving women's dignity. This empowerment can start from instilling values ​​that respect the existence of women in the family. In addition, women need to be empowered economically, because the family economy becomes one of the causes of violence and women have a major role in the family economy. 

Empowerment must be done since early, including in Indonesia. That is by instilling an even education and various skills for girls. This task is the responsibility of all parties to eliminate violence against women as a final result can be achieved.