Trilateral cooperation should be maximized to avert hostage taking

 JAKARTA - Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi has underscored the necessity to garner optimal advantage from the bilateral cooperation with the Philippines and Malaysia as part of the efforts to prevent militant groups from taking hostages.

Marsudi made the statement while handing over two Indonesian citizens once held hostages by the Abu Sayyaf armed group in South Philippines to their families at the Foreign Ministry in Jakarta on Thursday evening.

The most crucial step that Indonesia will take in the future is preventing the taking of hostages through a trilateral agreement since it victimizes not only Indonesians but also foreign nationals, she emphasized.

"We need to intensify cooperation, so we can take preventive measures to avoid others falling victim in the future,” she noted.

The minister chose to not get into the finer details regarding the mechanism of trilateral cooperation. However, the Indonesian government remains committed to capitalizing on the cooperation, she remarked.

To prevent hostage-taking cases in the future, Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto is scheduled to meet with his Philippine counterpart on Friday.

"I think this is a good opportunity. Mr. defense minister is traveling to Manila to meet the Philippine defense minister. The two defense ministers have a mechanism of trilateral cooperation in place that we will intensify," she stated.

According to data from the Indonesian consulate in Tawau in the Malaysian state of Sabah, 39 Indonesians were abducted and held hostages by the Abu Sayyaf armed group during the period between 2003 and 2019.

Most victims were migrant workers, who were abducted or held hostage while conducting activities in the waters off Sabah's eastern coast, Sulistijo Djati Ismojo, chief of the Indonesian consulate in Tawau, stated on Tuesday (Dec 24).

Of the total, 37 were freed, while one hostage died. Muhammad Farhan is currently the only Indonesian held hostage by the armed group.

Two Indonesians held hostages along with Farhan were freed on December 22, 2019, through an operation launched by the Philippine military. (ANTARA)


VP Amin upbeat about KPK performing better


JAKARTA - Vice President Ma'ruf Amin has expressed optimism that the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) would deliver better performance under the leadership of the new commissioners and supervisory council.
Amin remarked at the Vice Presidential Office on Thursday (26/12)
that KPK would be better organized. It has a Supervisory Council and it will be more under control and on target.
He was also optimistic of witnessing an improvement in Indonesia's Corruption Perceptions Index.
In Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, Indonesia scored 38 points on the scale of 0 to 100, increasing from 37 points recorded in 2016 and 2017.It placed Indonesia in the 89th ranking out of 180 countries.//Antara


Jakarta - Vice President, Ma'ruf Amin, directed online movie streaming sites to fulfill their obligations and pay taxes.

"In terms of taxation, I asked the Ministry of Finance how to handle this issue (and coordinate) between the Minister of Communication and Informatics and the Minister of Finance," said Amin at the Vice Presidential Office in Jakarta, Thursday.

Additionally, the Vice President asked the Minister of Communication and Informatics, Johnny G Plate, to monitor film content broadcasted by online film sites and application services.

The Vice President also directed Finance Minister, Sri Mulyani, to regulate online movie streaming sites and ensure they pay taxes.

"For Netflix, it is a matter of tax. We will later ask them to pay taxes and that will be controlled by the Ministry of Finance," he said.

Netflix services cannot be accessed through the services provided by Telkomsel cellular operators, despite the application operating legally.

In addition, the illegal film streaming site, "indoxxi", will also cease operations in 2020.

The government had previously said that it would shut down illegal film and music streaming sites this week, in a bid to protect the intellectual property rights of creators. Plate asked the public to watch movies through legal means, including cinemas and television broadcasts.


Jakarta Archdiocese Bishop underscores importance of friendship

Bishop of the Jakarta Archdiocese, Cardinal Suharyo, believes that the message of “living as friends to everyone” aims to thwart the rise in hatred stemming from a depleting sense of togetherness among Indonesians.

Suharyo pointed to three indications of hatred, intolerance, and identity politics marking the start of diminishing togetherness in society and often observed in friendships and relations.

"Those are the signs that the sense of togetherness is diminishing among the people as citizens of a country. Such words did not exist 10 years back, thereby translating to the fact that the problem was not as prevalent as it is now," he stated at Jakarta's Cathedral Church, Wednesday.

He highlighted the need for a way out and was optimistic that the 2019 Christmas celebrations would offer a momentum to trounce over hate speeches, intolerance, and identity politics.

This year's Christmas celebration themed, "Live as Friends to Everyone," serves as the initial steps to restore optimism and togetherness among the people.

"Live as friends for everyone to fight the flow of hate speech, the current of intolerance, and the surge in identity politics," he emphasized.

In light of the Christmas celebrations, the Jakarta Cathedral Church held four mass services at 7 a.m., 9 a.m., 11 a.m., and lastly at 5 p.m. local time.

Jakarta's Cathedral Church Archdiocese Public Relations division has projected that some eight thousand people in total had participated in all four mass services. (ANTARA. (ANTARA)