Editorial (338)



Indonesia participates again in the London Book Fair. At present, Indonesia is bringing 450 book titles in an exhibition held at Olympia, Kensington, London on 12 to 14 March 2019. Indonesia's presence becomes special. Because Indonesia is chosen as the first country from Southeast Asia to receive priority as Market Focus Country.

The Creative Economy Agency, as the representative of the Government of the Republic of Indonesia prepares around 100 events to promote Indonesia's presence in the exhibition that Indonesia has participated in since 2016. Chairman of the Creative Economy Agency, Triawan Munaf said that participating in the exhibition is an effort to encourage Indonesia's creative economy products worldwide, especially in the literature. He wants the Indonesian literature to go international and at the same time, to attract foreign people to come.

There are specific targets to be achieved by Indonesia in the 2019 London Book Fair, the biggest exhibition for the sale of copyrights. Indonesia targets 50 titles to be sold for copyrights. Chairman of the National Book Committee, Laura Bangun Prinsloo affirmed that the target of 50 book titles for the 2019 London Book Fair might sound not many. But actually, the target is already quite high, considering that Indonesia has only participated in this exhibition starting in 2016. That number will add to the 1,200 titles sold to foreign publishers over the last five years.

In the past few years, Indonesia has always been present at the International Book Exhibition. Indonesia routinely takes part in the Frankfurt Book Fair. In 2018, the copyrights for the publication of 36 titles were purchased by several countries participating in the oldest book exhibition. Indonesia is also present at the Beijing International Book Fair. In the Brunei 2019 Book Exhibition, thousands of Indonesian book titles were sold.

The presence of the works of Indonesian writers in international book exhibitions must be improved. Because through their work, the world community can get to know Indonesia more with its diversity of cultures, tribes and religions. Books have become a means of promotion and diplomacy for the wealth of more than 17,000 islands in Indonesia. The presence of works by Indonesian writers in the international arena is expected to increase the number of world-class writers. Take for example; Pramodya Ananta Toer is a well-known writer who successfully published at least 50 works, and his books have been translated into 41 foreign languages. In addition, the writer, such as Andrea Herata also successfully introduced one region in Indonesia, Belitung through his book "Laskar Pelangi" which has been translated into 34 foreign languages and published in 130 countries. Taufik Ismail's poem entitled "With My Poetry,..." has been translated into 52 foreign languages.

More importantly, through books by Indonesian writers, Indonesia’s display will be more open and more readers and lovers of the world book will look into it.

That’s Commentary!


Relations between Iran and Iraq begin a new phase. For the first time, since the end of the war between the two countries in the 80s, an Iranian  President visited Iraq. Apparently  ignoring  the US warnings, Iraqi President Barham Salih received Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warmly. Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, told reporters that the two Presidents had had good talks, and agreed to increase cooperation in the economic and political fields. Turkish Radio  Television, through its website, even reported that the two Presidents had agreed to apply for visa-free visits for their citizens. Both countries seem to want to forget the war that lasted eight years until 1988 which caused many casualties. Moreover, the Iranian President's historic visit to Iraq also showed the two countries' courageous attitude towards the United States. To Baghdad, Washington has warned that it should refrain from relations with its neighbor. Meanwhile, Iran has shown an indifferent attitude towards economic sanctions given by the United States. Besides opposing US pressure, Iran also wants to show that it still has influence in the Middle East. From the meeting, it can be said that the two countries want to show their independence without having to be influenced and pressured by outsiders in establishing and enhancing bilateral relations. Of course in the name of the interests of the people of both countries. During the talks, which were  followed by technical meetings, the two countries agreed to increase trade relations. Both plan to increase the trade value nearly 100 percent from the previous 12 billion US dollars, especially through gas and energy exports from Iran. On the other hand, Iran's prime minister's visit to Iraq after the war between the two in the 80s, could possibly lead to geopolitical changes in the Middle East, as well as their relations with Western Europe and the United States.


Kashmir is in turmoil  again. India and Pakistan are two neighboring countries in South Asia that  have been in  disputes over the region for decades. Their conflicts not only in words but also in arms. There have been a number of victims fell  since two weeks ago. An armed conflict began when Indian paramilitary troops convoying in the Kashmir region were killed in a suicide attack on February 14. 40 people were killed  in the incident. The angry Indian Prime Minister then  not only issued a statement that would retaliate,  but manifested his anger by bombarding Jaish Mohammad's group headquarters. The Jais Mohammad militant group has indeed claimed responsibility for the  suicide attack that killed 40 Indian paramilitaries. The latest attack that killed dozens of residents was part  of Indian Pakistani conflicts which have been going on for seven decades. The two countries were trying to  control part of Kashmir since India and Pakistan gained  independence from Britain in 1947. Tensions are increasingly felt  with the presence of Kashmiri militia groups in Pakistan. There are people who live in the region who have fled,  but not a few who remain in the midst of the  conflict that is often characterized by riots and violence. Until now the two countries have not found a meeting point in resolving their  border disputes. The latest armed conflict triggered by a militant suicide bombing shows that a dialogue approach is needed for resolving the ongoing crisis in Kashmir.


Mount Merapi erupted again and released a hot cloud burst on Saturday night (02/03/2019) with a sliding distance of 1.3 kilometers. The Center for Investigation and Development of Geological Disaster Technology (BPPTKG) recorded 9 times hot clouds and avalanches coming out of Mt. Merapi located in the Special Region of Yogyakarta, Central Java. Mt. Merapi is one of the most active volcanoes in Indonesia. Since 1548, this mountain has erupted 68 times. According to the records, Mt. Merapi erupts every two to five years and bigger eruptions occur around 10-15 years. The eruption in 1872 was considered the strongest one in the record of the modern era of geology. The big eruption in 2010 was estimated to also have the same power. The eruption in 1930, which destroyed thirteen villages and killed around 1.400 people, was the biggest eruption so far. In October 2010, Mt. Merapi erupted with hot cloud and hard boom. This was the biggest eruption in the last 100 years and resulted in 337casualties, dozens of villages damaged and hundreds of thousands of people evacuated. Until now, the Geological Disaster Research and Development Center still maintains the status of Mt. Merapi at Level II or Alert. Nevertheless, for the time being, the local residents are encouraged not to carry out activities within a three kilometer radius of the Mt. Merapi. In addition, hiking activities are suspended temporarily except for the purposes of investigation and research related to disaster mitigation. For information, there are 4 volcano statuses, namely Normal or basic level, which means that the volcano does not experience visual, seismic, and volcanic events. Then, Alert or Level II indicates an increase in volcanic activity. At this level, seismic and volcanic activity begins to emerge, and activity increases above the normal level. Furthermore, Alert or Level III indicates that the volcano has intensified seismic activity. There are visual changes in crater activity that can progress to eruptions. The last, Beware or Level IV indicates that the volcano is to immediately erupt and in a critical condition. This situation can cause disaster. The opening eruption starts with ash and steam, and has the opportunity to continue in approximately 24 hours. Of course, the eruption of Mt. Merapi is a natural process that cannot be avoided, as happened in 2010. The local residents are expected to improve awareness of the dangers of lava rain, especially when there is rain around the peak of Mt. Merapi. In addition, they must also obey the appeals and warnings submitted by the regional government and disaster mitigation agencies. Vigilance is very important to minimize the unexpected risk.


The attention of the international community towards a summit between the President of the United States, Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was directed at a meeting which ended sooner than scheduled. For a while, high expectations for the results of the two leaders' meetings did not materialize. The meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam ended without agreement. President Trump and Leader Kim Jong-un did not sign any agreement.The meeting in the communist-leaning country like North Korea was a follow-up to Trump and Kim's historic meeting on the date. June 12, 2018 in Singapore. Unlike the statement made after the meeting in Singapore, the meeting in Hanoi was marked by a reflection of the lack of trust from the President of the United States over the goodwill of the North Korean leader. Trump's optimism which was stated before the meeting ended with the statement that Kim could not meet the expectations of the United States of America. In his statement, President Donald Trump said that Kim requested that all sanctions be revoked, but without full commitment to carry out denuclearization. President Trump also stressed that the United States had not given up on Kim's demands. 'UM YET GIVE UP' is really interesting to observe. In terms of negotiations, the word 'Not yet' can imply a possibility of a problem to be renegotiated. By using the word 'Not yet', there are two things that can be stated.First is the possibility of further talks, and the two North Koreans can actually feel that they have a strong bargaining position. North Korea has shown its existence to the world.Through the stages of the meeting with Donald Trump, Kim has shown himself and his country to have become a big country calculation, such as the United States. In the end, North Korea will reap more benefits from the next meeting with the United States, besides depending on North Korea itself. Of course it can also be seen from the extent to which large countries such as China will show their support for Leader Kim Jong-un. Because it is recognized or not, so far China is a country that has close relations with North Korea.


Sharm el-Sheikh, a beautiful tourist city in the Red Sea region, in Egypt, Saturday and Sunday (24-25 February 2019), hosts a High-Level Conference between Arab League member countries and the European Union. This became the first summit of the two regions. Qatar, which at the last  Arab League summit was not present, this time attended with its representatives who sat in the Secretariat in Cairo. One reason why the Arab League held  this summit iwas the desire for the European Union to play a greater role in the Middle East region. Moreover, the United States slowly began to reduce its role. Palestinians at the summit specifically called on the Arab League and the European Union to cooperate in holding an international peace conference to revive the Israeli Palestinian negotiations which have stalled  since 2014. Palestinians object to the single role of the United States in mediating its problems with Israel especially since Washington moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The Arab League and the European Union agree on the Palestinian issue, namely the two-state solution according to the UN resolution. On the other hand, the European Union seems to be displeased if the vacant role left by the United States is filled with other major influences, namely Russia and China. So in his closing speech European Council President Donald Tusk expressed the need for cooperation and not to let the Middle East region be under global power far from the region. In fact, Russia has been present strong enough with naval and air bases in Syria. While China does not enter from the military side, but from investment cooperation planted in Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. It is indeed hard for the European Union to immediately implement plans in the declaration because its position has been left behind. But the influence of the European Union can be strengthened because Arab countries open doors in the region. Now, the Summit is over, the Declaration has been signed. Remain action must be taken by the two regional organizations so that the declaration is not just a signed paper.



President Joko Widodo wants power plants in Indonesia not to depend on the energy of fossil fuels. He also revealed plans to develop a power plant with new and renewable energy. The intention and plan was affirmed when he inaugurated the 1x660 Megawatt Expansion Power Plant in Cilacap, Central Java on Monday (25/02).

Indonesia has begun to develop power plants with new and renewable energy. President Joko WI dodo took an example; until now power plants with wind, water, and even steam have been developed in various regions in Indonesia. One of them is wind power plants in Sidrap and Jeneponto, South Sulawesi.

President Joko Widodo's wish is not hope without strong reason. Indonesia has great potential in new and renewable energy. As a tropical country in the equatorial region, Indonesia's solar energy potential is abundant to be processed into solar power plants. Indonesian rivers with large volumes and fast flowing have also great potential as renewable energy sources to produce electricity.

Moreover, Indonesia has expressed its commitment to reduce carbon emissions by 29 percent by 2030. The Indonesian government has also targeted a portion of the mix of new renewable energy use to reach 23 percent in 2025, and processing waste into an energy source.

At least, the desire without energy of fossil fuels has begun to be carried out by operating 12 waste power plants from 2019 to 2022. The 12 plants will be able to produce up to 234 megawatts of electricity from around 16 thousand tons of waste per day.

Unfortunately, there are still some obstacles in the development of this new and renewable energy. In Indonesia, the process of converting new and renewable energy into electricity requires substantial costs, especially related to the infrastructure. Meanwhile, State Electric Company, PT PLN as a seller of electricity services must sell electricity at affordable prices.

Realizing this condition, awareness of empowering natural resources to produce electricity must be increased. In mountainous areas, for example, river flows can be used to produce electricity through micro-hydro technology.

With its huge potential, Indonesia must be aware of realizing the new and renewable energy. Regulations must be enacted and provision of incentives must be provided for any investors to develop the new and renewable energy so that the target of new renewable energy in the national energy mix in Indonesia to reach 23 percent by 2025 can be achieved.



Even though it is still in February, the government has announced about the grant of 2019 holiday allowance (THR). The Ministry of Finance (Kemenkeu) has even confirmed that the holiday allowance for the state civil apparatus (ASN) will be paid in May 2019 in accordance with the plan. Based on written information on Saturday (02/23/2019), the Ministry of Finance said that the THR would be given before Idul Fitri arrives.

The reason is an effective working day. This year's Idul Fitri holiday will start from June 1st to 7th. Thus, the effective working day for the THR payments is in May. For this reason, the Ministry of Finance has encouraged the government to create a regulation (PP) from the Ministry of Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform as the institution that initiates the THR grant. The Ministry of Finance hopes that the government’s regulation will be in place before the 2019 General Elections are held on April 17th.

As a competitor in the 2019 General Elections, of course the government's announcement is criticized by the presidential candidate's National Winning Body (BPN) 02: Prabowo Subianto-Sandiaga Uno. They consider that President Joko Widodo intentionally announces the plan in a bid to win votes in the presidential election. Actually, they agree that in May, it’s the right time for THR or the 13th salary to be disbursed. But what they could not accept is that there is strong willingness that the regulation related to the grant of 2019 holiday allowance could be set before the presidential election.

Meanwhile, Jokowi-Ma'ruf Amin's National Campaign Team (TKN) asked the Prabowo camp not to always relate everything with politics. The National Winning team of candidate pair 01 affirmed that Jokowi is committed to paying attention to people's welfare. If paid faster, of course it is better. Consequently, the State Civil Apparatus can prepare for the feast early.

Accusing each other does not really need to happen if both parties think clearly the upcoming presidential election. Isn't choice a personal right? Voters will freely vote for any candidates who are good according to their hearts.

Of course, there is something more important than just questioning the announcement of the THR that is considered faster. It would be fine if the two sides discuss how to make this year's the grant of 2019 holiday allowance not be followed by price hike, especially the price of staple foods.



Every February 21st, the world including Indonesia commemorates International Mother Language Day. For the Indonesian people, this commemoration is a right momentum to intensively protect and teach regional languages to children.

Indonesia is very rich in regional languages. The number of regional languages in Indonesia is the second largest in the world after Papua New Guinea. Based on data of Language Development Agency at the Ministry of Education and Culture, the number of regional languages spread in Indonesia per 2018 is 668 regional languages. Among the regional languages in Indonesia, there are three languages with more than 10 million speakers, namely Javanese (84.3 million speakers), Sundanese (34 million speakers), and Madurese language (13.6 million speakers).

The wealth of regional languages is a treasure and pride for Indonesia, because each language has its own uniqueness. The characteristics of social, cultural, economic, political and various aspects of the life of the Indonesian people are reflected in the language.

Therefore, efforts to protect and maintain the diversity of languages in Indonesia must continue. If not, there will be many regional languages that will become extinct or without speakers.

Based on data from the Language Agency, as many as 11 regional languages in Indonesia were declared extinct. There are 16 languages whose status is endangered. There are several causes of language extinction, including shrinking the number of speakers, large natural disasters, inter-tribal intermarriage, and the language attitude of speakers.

Real efforts are needed from both the community and the government to protect and maintain the diversity of languages in Indonesia. The regional governments need to make regulations to protect their respective regional languages. In Indonesia, there is only one regional regulation that regulates regional language protection, namely North Sumatra Province.

Efforts to develop, foster and protect regional languages are through not only legislation, but also efforts from individual speakers of regional languages. For example, the regional languages can be documented. Each individual needs to take the initiative to document the local language. The documentation is very necessary for its sustainability so that it does not become extinct. This is the right way to protect the cultural and intellectual heritage of Indonesia.



Over the last few weeks, prices of flight tickets in Indonesia have been very expensive. The situation was made worse by the elimination of promo tickets and paid baggage policies for some airlines. The increase in airplane ticket prices is quite surprising, because the peak season has passed, which should have dropped the price of airline tickets. But in low season, the price of airline tickets is still expensive.

After the government tried to overcome this problem, the price of airline tickets began to decline. However, the public considered the price of airline tickets to be still expensive.
Aviation corporations accuse the price of airplane fuel is very high, which is the reason for rising flight ticket prices. They say that Avtur prices in Indonesia are more expensive than abroad. As a result, the price of foreign airplane tickets from Indonesia abroad has become cheaper than domestic flight tickets abroad.

Compared to Southeast Asian countries, Avtur prices in Indonesia are actually classified as competitive, the third lowest recorded after Singapore and Malaysia. Compared to the selling price of Avtur at Changi Singapore, the price of Avtur in Cengkareng is indeed more expensive at around 5 to 10 percent. However, the difference in the Avtur price is due to the imposition of Sales Tax (VAT) on Avtur by 10 percent, while the Avtur price at Changi is not subject to VAT. If it is not subject to VAT, Avtur prices in Singapore and Indonesia should be equal. In addition, since November 2018 until mid-February 2019, Avtur prices in Indonesia have tended to fall, reaching 18.5 percent. The proportion of Avtur costs of 24 percent is indeed quite significant in the formation of ticket selling prices. However, when the Avtur price dropped to 18.5%, the price of airline tickets did not decline, but instead experienced an increase during low season in early January to mid-February, the Avtur prices are assumed to unfair.

Some observers suspect that there are price cartels from several major airlines that control flights in Indonesia. So now, it is the time for the government to control the corporate actions of a number of airlines, related to the policy of eliminating promo ticket prices and paid baggage.

Indonesian Business Competition Supervisory Commission (KPPU) needs to ensure that there are no price formation cartels from certain airlines. Without the efforts of the Government and KPPU, it is difficult for the public to expect airline ticket prices, which are burdensome for consumers, to be reduced in the near future.

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