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25
August

 

Inevitably, almost every conflict or war in one country has an impact on other countries. This can be seen at least from the increasing number of refugees in various places. Conflicts in several African countries, have caused displacement. Chaos in Armenia Azerbaijan, has the same impact. Syria, which has always been hit by civil war, has troubled other countries, including Europe, because of the flood of refugees. Rohingya refugees are also a clear example of the internal turmoil in Myanmar. And lastly is Afghanistan.

Thousands of Afghans have been transported by plane out of their country, while many others have flooded Kabul's International Airport. News in the international mass media repeatedly broadcast the situation at Hamid Karzai airport, Kabul. Everything gives an idea of how chaotic and depressing the atmosphere there is. It also illustrates how suffering those who try to escape from their homeland are. Several countries have expressed their willingness to accept Afghan refugees, including the United States. It was reported that these Afghan refugees not only flooded the airport in Kabul, but also spread across the borders with other countries, including Pakistan, Uzbekistan and others. Unlike the United States, Canada and several European countries, the neighboring countries readiness to accept refugees from Afghanistan is constrained due to the conditions of their respective countries.

Tensions at Kabul's international airport have increased with the deadline for the withdrawal of US troops, which is August 31, 2021. Meanwhile, the Taliban has said it does not want the United States to extend that time. The fate of Afghan refugees then, seems to be more concerning because of it.

The issue of refugees due to civil war or conflict has finally become a problem for other countries. UNHCR, the UN agency that handles refugees, is trying to help overcome this problem in various countries, especially those on the borders. UNHCR has established many shelters and provided food aid.

Of course, it is not so simple to blame certain parties as the cause of thousands or even millions of refugees who fled their country. Because the situation is pretty complex. But what is really more important is, how to deal with the millions of people who have already fled and prevent more refugees from happening.

24
August

 

Today, August 24 is a historic day in the journey of television broadcasting in Indonesia. Television of the Republic of Indonesia –TVRI officially broadcast its first broadcast on August 24, 1962. The first broadcast of TVRI was marked by the premiere of the 4th Asian Games at the Bung Karno Main Stadium in Jakarta. For a quarter of a century, broadcasters established under the Decree of the Minister of Information No.20/SK/VII/61 broadcast television programs without competition.

In 1987, the first private television station, RCTI officially was on air. This was followed by SCTV which aired in 1990. These two commercial broadcasting stations were established on the same date, 24 August. Afterwards, the world of television broadcasting in Indonesia was increasingly widespread with the presence of more television stations with their respective target audiences. Quoting digital broadcast.kominfo.go.id, in 2021, the number of television stations broadcasting analogously in Indonesia reaches 701. It is hoped that by November 2022, Indonesia will fully implement the Digital TV broadcasting system.

The government through the Ministry of Communication and Informatics is modernizing Indonesian television broadcasts by switching from analog broadcast to digital one. The original plan was that the initial phase of Analog Switch-Off (ASO) or the cessation of analog TV broadcasts began on August 17, 2021. With some considerations, the plan is postponed to April 2022. The considerations underlying the delay are that Indonesia is still focusing on handling the Covid-19 pandemic and economic recovery as well as further preparation stages. In the future, Indonesian people can continue to enjoy free digital television broadcasts to get very clear picture quality, clear sound, and sophisticated technology

Currently, the way to watch television programs is no longer sitting in front of the television. With streaming or video on demand broadcast facilities broadcast on the official website of television broadcasting stations and various platforms, Indonesian television programs can be enjoyed anywhere and anytime with an internet connection. This is also a challenge for television broadcasting stations. Because they have to compete with individual or group creations that produce audio-visual shows. But at the same time, it is an opportunity for Indonesian television broadcasters to widely spread their broadcasts.

Within nearly 60 years of Indonesian television broadcasting, there is hope for Indonesian television programs to go global. Indonesia has the possibility to do so. The diversity of art, culture, customs and natural charm of Indonesia can be an amazing attraction for television programs for the world community. If it is realized, the potential of natural and human resources, combined with digital technology, is possible; in its time, Indonesian television programs to be presented attractively will be enjoyed by the international community.

23
August

 

Indonesia's Competitiveness Ranking in 2021 slightly increased from its position compared in 2020, which was ranked 40. The 2021 World Competitiveness Yearbook (WCY) survey conducted by the Institute Management Development (IMD) puts Indonesia's competitiveness at 37th out of a total of 64 countries recorded. The survey in Indonesia was carried out by the Management Institute of the Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Indonesia, which has  acted as IMD's partner in Indonesia over the last five years.

According to the Management Institute, the results of the ranking assessment are based on a data analysis on Indonesia's economic performance until 2020 and the assessment of business actors regarding the perception of the business environment they are facing. Meanwhile, the competitiveness assessment method is based on the assessment of 4 main components including, Economic Performance, Government Efficiency, Business Efficiency, and Infrastructure.

The survey results show that there is an increase in Indonesia's ranking on the components of government and business efficiency. The government's efficiency rating has increased from 31st in 2020 to 26th in 2021. It is stated that the public financial policy factor, which is quite effective in responding to pandemic conditions, is a component that supports this rating increase.

Meanwhile, the business efficiency component increased from 31st in 2020 to 25th in 2021 due to optimism for future business transformation.

However, unlike the efficiency of government and business, the performance of the economy and infrastructure has decreased. Indonesia's economic performance ranking in 2021 is at position 35th, a decrease compared to 2020  which was at position 26th. The downgrade is driven by labor conditions, international trade, and domestic price levels. Indonesia's infrastructure ranking has also shifted from position 55th in 2020 to position 57th in 2021, due to the readiness factor for health and education infrastructure in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought about a significant impact on the decline in economic and infrastructure performance which is an important component in the assessment of competitiveness rankings. Hopefully, the well-managed handling of Covid-19, especially the acceleration of vaccination which is being carried out by the  government, will be able to make Indonesia's competitiveness ranking improved this year. Even so, it will be better next year.

20
August

 

After 20 years of war, the Taliban managed to wrest power from the Afghan government, which is strongly backed by the United States and its allies. The world was flabbergasted. Some are even trying to digest the fact that Kabul has fallen into the hands of the Taliban. Some are pessimistic about the future of Afghanistan, but others are trying to be realistic.

Since Monday 16 August 2021, the day after the Taliban occupied Kabul, the group has continued to try to change its political style and shift from physical combat to diplomacy. The Taliban continue to try to convince the world of the legitimacy of their rule.

Quoting ANTARA / at a press conference / Taliban's main spokesman Zahibullah Muhajid asked the international community to recognize their rule over Afghanistan. Muhajid also made many promises, including that everyone would be forgiven even those who had worked with the previous government or with foreign governments. The Taliban also promised to respect women's rights but within the norms of Islamic law.

The question is, will the Taliban change and fulfill its promises?

US President Joe Biden said the Taliban would never change, especially regarding the group's basic principles. Although the Taliban vowed to implement a more open government and guarantee women's rights, Biden is pessimistic that the group can implement a democratic system in Afghanistan. Biden insists that economic and diplomatic pressure, not military force, is needed to ensure the Taliban protect and guarantee women's rights in Afghanistan.

The concern of the Afghan people over the rule of the Taliban is very understandable, given the past history. Not only the Afghan people, the world also asks the Taliban to show through concrete actions, not only promises and statements. So they can dispel the fear of many people about the guarantee of freedom and security in the country.

If Biden is pessimistic, then UNICEFF is not. The UN agency which deals with aid for children around the world, is optimistic that it can cooperate with the Taliban, especially in supporting education for children and women.

The Taliban are currently in the euphoria of victory and will continue to speak in an idealistic setting. But they should not only promise. The words must be realized in order to be able to create a positive image that is far from violence. So that they can get recognition and support of the international community.

19
August

 

Right after celebrating Independence Day, Indonesians commemorate Constitution Day every August 18. Back in 1945, after proclaiming independence, Indonesians announced the birth of the 1945 Constitution as the legal basis for the country. The 1945 Constitution is the highest law in Indonesia where almost all legal products always refer to the contents of the 1945 Constitution. The journey of the 1945 Constitution is quite long in the history of the Indonesian state.It was amended the first time during the reformation era, after the New Order fell in 1999. Many later wanted the 1945 Constitution to be changed back into its original version.

Chairperson of the People's Consultative Assembly –MPR, Bambang Soesatyo in the Constitution Day commemoration on Wednesday (18/8) said although the position and authority of the MPR had changed a lot, the soul of this institution that was created by the nation's founders must not change. Therefore, the Assembly must keep bridging people's aspirations from all regions and prioritizing political ethics, by always trying to create a harmony among socio-political powers and groups of interests to justly achieve national advancement.

Meanwhile, Speaker of the House of Representatives –DPR, Puan Maharani said that the 1945 Constitution is the highest law and basis for all state administrators in decision making. It contains the guarantee for the constitutional rights of all citizens, including the health and economic rights during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The 1945 Constitution has been amended four times. One of the fundamental changes was the position of People's Consultative Assembly, that now can only inaugurate the president and vice president elected by the people.

Despite the amendment, four pillars of the nation: the 1945 Constitution, Pancasila, Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia, and Unity in Diversity or Bhinneka Tunggal Ika are non-negotiable. They are the main soul of every Indonesian. Indonesians must also remember that one of the goals of gaining independence is to achieve people's prosperity and social justice. Therefore, the 1945 Constitution gives authority for the state or the government to do something in order to achieve the prosperity and justice.

18
August

 

The deadline for the withdrawal of US troops and their allies from Afghanistan is not yet over,  but the Taliban has been able to control the country. Taliban leaders and troops, managed easily to  enter Kabul and the Presidential Palace. President Ashraf Gani himself had left without  being known his whereabout.

After that, the Taliban immediately took over the government radio and television. Through the national media, the new head of TV and Radio, Maulvi Ishaq Nizami, stated that the Taliban government granted amnesty to all government officials and employees. According to him, they can carry out their duties without worry and fear.

Under the latest   conditions, many  non-Taliban Afghans must be gripped by fear and uncertainty. Thousands of them, especially those living in Kabul, ran to the airport and scrambled to board planes to leave the country. As reported by various mass media, they consist of young and old, even children, with frightened faces, worried about their fate and future.

In response to the end of the US and Western-backed Ashraf Gani administration, Russia and China have stated that they  would  continue to operate their embassies in Kabul. Meanwhile, Iran views that the existing momentum can be a driving force for the unity of all groups in Afghanistan. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi stated this in a phone  call to his Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. On the other hand, from London it was reported, British Foreign Secretary Ben Wallace said that his government would not send troops back to Afghanistan. Wallace acknowledged that the Taliban had taken control of Afghanistan, and that this was recognized as a failure by the international community.

So, how about the United States? Joe Bidden insisted that his troop withdrawal was the right decision. Responding to criticism from Donald Trump, Bidden said he remained firm in his stance. However, regarding the latest developments, he had expressed his concerns. He promised to ensure that even under the rule of the Taliban, the rights of women and children would be protected. In its previous reign, before being overthrown by the US and its allies 20 years ago, the Taliban enforced Islamic law that was stricter than any other Islamic country around the world. They require women to wear full body coverings including the face (burqa), and are not allowed to appear and go out in public places, as well as limiting their education.

Of course, it is not only women who are worried, but also other Afghans. The reinstatement of the Taliban in Afghanistan, of course, immediately gave rise to new rulers who said they would implement their version of Islamic law. Very likely, there will be no more general elections. If this is the case, it is still uncertain how the reconciliation process between the various interests in the country will occur.

China and Russia and Iran, which have welcomed the presence of the Taliban, of course on the basis of their respective interests in Afghanistan, cannot yet be seen  as what their next steps will be. Afghanistan is known for its rich mineral resources. In addition, its geographical location is also very strategic and can connect China and Russia to Europe and the surrounding countries. This seems to have led the two countries, plus Afghanistan's other neighbour, Iran, to pay particular attention to the Taliban.

17
August


Today, August 17, the Indonesian people commemorate the 76th Anniversary of the Independence of the Republic of Indonesia. Today's Commentary title is the anniversary theme for 2021.

In his state address at the Annual Session of the Indonesian People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) in Jakarta, Monday (16/8), President Joko Widodo linked the phrase 'Indonesia Resilient' with Indonesian nation to fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. According to President Joko Widodo, this pandemic is like a candradimuka crater that tests, teaches, and sharpens at the same time. All pillars of life are tested; all pillars of strength are honed. Patience, persitence, togetherness, intelligence, and speed, all of these are tested and honed at the same time.

The pandemic mentioned by President Joko Widodo has also spurred people to change, develop new ways, leave old habits that are irrelevant, and break through the impossible. In fact, he believes, the capacity of state institutions in responding to the pandemic is also increasingly consolidated and more responsive.

The implementation of the phrase 'Indonesia Growing' can be seen from the economic growth in the second quarter of 2021, which reached 7.07% with a controlled inflation rate at 1.52%. Even during the period, restrictions on community activities were implemented in many places due to the spread of Covid-19 transmission. The government's optimism for Indonesia's growth can also be seen from the 2022 State Revenue and Expenditure Budget Bill which was submitted by the President on the same occasion. In 2022, the Government plans a fiscal policy that remains expansive to support the acceleration of socio-economic recovery, but is also consolidative to increase the state budget by strengthening structural reforms.

President Joko Widodo affirmed that there are six main focuses in the 2022 State Budget policy: first by continuing efforts to control Covid-19 while still prioritizing the health sector, second by maintaining the sustainability of social protection programs for the poor and vulnerable, third by strengthening the agenda for improving human resources with superior, integrity and competitiveness, fourth by continuing infrastructure development and improving technology adaptability, fifth by strengthening fiscal decentralization to increase and distribute welfare among regions and sixth by continuing budgeting reform in  implementing zero-based budgeting to encourage more efficient spending, strengthening central and regional synergies, focusing on priority and results-based programs, and anticipating conditions of uncertainty.

What was affirmed by President Joko Widodo in the two speeches may enliven optimism for a better Indonesia. To make it come true, discipline is needed so that the plan is carried out on time according to the target. Hopefully, all stakeholders can move at the same acceleration to realize “Indonesia Resilient, Indonesia Growing.”

16
August

 

The Indonesian People's Consultative Assembly –MPR holds its Annual Session, Monday (16/8). Same as in previous years, the session which is held ahead of the commemoration of Indonesian Independence Day on 17 August, is attended by the President, Vice President, cabinet ministers, members of the Assembly, and other dignitaries whose number is limited due to the Covid19 pandemic.

In the MPR’s Annual Session held along with the House of Representative -DPR and Regional Representatives -DPD this time, President Joko Widodo delivers a speech on the performance reports of state institutions. Afterwards, he also gives a speech delivering the government's introduction/information on the Draft Law on the Indonesian State Revenue and Expenditure Budget (APBN) for the 2022 Fiscal Year and its Financial Note.

This is the second time that the MPR’s Annual Session has been carried out in a simple, not too long, yet effective and efficient manner due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Quoting Antara News Agency, Chairperson of MPR, Bambang Soesatyo said that amid conditions of the Covid-19 pandemic, social cohesion and national solidity had become a vulnerable and crucial point. Therefore, the MPR annual session this year focuses on strengthening and building the nation's character. This must continue to be fought for so that it becomes a collective spirit amid the social, national and state life which is being slumped due to the Covid-9.

It is hoped that the MPR Annual Session will be able to become a momentum for the MPR to convey various national messages related to the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, and not only focuses on health and economic aspects but also to be able to remind all elements of the nation that in handling the pandemic must also include aspects of strengthening the life of the nation and state in a bid to be  able to build optimism in dealing with the Covid-9.

As is known, the Covid-19 pandemic has multi-dimensional impacts. The economy contracted, unemployment increased, debt increased, not to mention other social impacts.

Thereby, the 2021 MPR Annual Session should not just be a normative event that will pass, but also be able to answer a number of current and future challenges or the post-pandemic era, with seriousness in creating national independence. In line with the theme of the 76th Anniversary of the Republic of Indonesia, namely "Indonesia Resilient, Indonesia Grows", with the hope that Indonesia will remain strong in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.

12
August

 

State-owned oil and gas company, PT Pertamina officially takes over the Rokan block from the previous operator PT Chevron Pacific Indonesia -a subsidiary of a multinational energy company Chevron Corp. Since Monday (09/08), the management of the oil field in Rokan block, Riau Province has been in the hands of PT Pertamina Hulu Rokan.

Indonesian Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Arifin Tasrif said the takeover was a milestone in Indonesian upstream oil and gas industry.

Yes, the government handed over the Rokan block to PT Pertamina. But, can they really manage the Rokan Block? Can they maintain the oil production or even surpass the current oil production?

Based on data from Oil and Gas Special Regulatory Task Force (SKK Migas) as per June 2021 under PT Chevron Pacific Indonesia, Rokan block produced 165,000 barrels of oil per day or around 24 percent of total national oil production.

The greatest challenge faced by PT Pertamina is maintaining the production number or increasing it. Maintaining the production is not easy. Therefore, as posted by PT Pertamina on their Instagram on Wednesday (11/8), President Joko Widodo asked the company to work its fingers to the bone for the sake of the Rokan block's continuity.

PT Pertamina needs to work hard so that bad history does not repeat. When PT Pertamina took over Blok Mahakam, the production dropped significantly. Another decrease in production will be a bad precedent.

To increase production after the takeover, PT Pertamina targets to drill 161 new oil wells in August-December 2021, in the hope that Rokan can maintain their current production and become one of the nation's main oil producers.

In achieving this goal, PT Pertamina needs qualified human resources who truly understand oil block management. It will also need sophisticated techs or at least the ones in the same level with Chevron's in managing the oil well.

PT Pertamina Hulu Rokan must show the world that they can manage the Rokan block and even do better than PT Chevron Pacific Indonesia. Therefore, PT Pertamina will be able to support national energy security.

13
August

 

Saudi Arabia has begun to  accept applications for Umrah from international Muslim pilgrims on condition that they have received the Covid-19 vaccination. The announcement was made through state media, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) on Sunday (8/8). SPA reported, the relevant ministry would receive Umrah applications from various countries in the world starting Monday 9 August 2021.

Thus, even though the Covid-19 pandemic is not over, Saudi Arabia is estimated to have started granting permits for 60,000 Umrah pilgrims who have been vaccinated. That number will gradually be increased to two million per month. Umrah pilgrims from abroad who are allowed to perform worship in the Holy Land must include an officially recognized Covid-19 vaccination certificate along with other requirements for Umrah.

Saudi Arabia's move to reopen Umrah for international pilgrims is quite bold. It needs cooperation at the international level so that there is no transmission of Covid-19 in Mecca. For Muslims outside Saudi Arabia who want to perform Umrah in the Holy Land, the decision is a breath of fresh air and encouraging.

However, the Saudi Government also imposes quite strict regulations, especially for pilgrims who, even though have been vaccinated, come from nine countries on the list of prohibited entry to Saudi Arabia. They are India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Egypt, Turkey, Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, and Lebanon. They will be quarantined for 14 days in third countries before entering Saudi Arabia. The reason is because Saudi Arabia has recognized only four types of vaccines, namely Pfizer, Moderna, Johnsons & Johnsons, and AstraZeneca. In fact on one hand, the Covid-19 vaccinations obtained by the 9 countries have already been approved and permitted by the World Health Organization -WHO. On the other hand, these countries, especially Indonesia with the largest Muslim population in the world, are known for their large number of Umrah pilgrims and bring in considerable income/foreign exchange for Saudi Arabia. The question is whether Saudi Arabia will relax the conditions in question given this fact.

Each country certainly needs to convince Saudi Arabia that the vaccines given to their citizens, although not included in the list of the Saudi Arabian government, have been tested and received permission from the WHO.

Understandably, the regulations are enforced solely to ensure that Umrah activities in the Holy Land are carried out in a safe manner by implementing all preventive measures and strict health protocols. This is considering that Umrah activities inevitably involve a great number of people with the potential to crowd. Thus, Umrah pilgrims are expected to be protected from the risk of Covid-19 transmission.

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