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Editorial (921)

17
March

 

The dreams of peace and democracy in Myanmar have yet to come true. After the coup by the military junta on 1 February, casualties on the part of civilians continued to fall. The country has yet to find a solution to the military-takeover of power. After the burning down of a number of factories which were Chinese investment, it seemed as if the military had the opportunity to impose a state of emergency in several places. Six cities since last Sunday have declared a state of emergency. The AFP news agency verified that during the demonstrations Sunday and Monday, dozens of people including women had died as a result of military fire.

Apparently, protesters set fire to the factories for accusing China of supporting Myanmar's military. It is possible that the arson and the accusations will disturb the government in Beijing. Previously, the Chinese government stated that it did not interfere with the political and social crisis in its neighboring country. Unlike the United States and several Western countries, China considers what is happening in Myanmar as a purely domestic matter. This is despite the fact that the UN Security Council has criticized the violence perpetrated by the military.

On the other hand, the condemnation and sanctions imposed by the United States and several other countries on Myanmar military officials, still have not shaken the ASEAN and its member countries in responding to the crisis in Myanmar. ASEAN, so far remains obedient to the commitment of non-interference   in the domestic affairs of its members. This may very well make the military feel comfortable. Myanmar is the last country to become a member of ASEAN because the association of Southeast Asian countries considers Myanmar to have become democratic.

This situation is expected to make the military continue to commit acts of violence against protesters who support Aung San Su Ky. Meanwhile, Aung San Su Ky was unable to act because she was in detention.

The country, which has begun to gain appreciation thanks to the realization of democracy some time ago, is now receiving attention and criticism due to violence by the military in forcing its power.

For its neighboring countries, what happened in Myanmar can certainly be a material for study and consideration on how to keep democracy growing, along with the steps to make people live in peace.

12
March

 

 

The UN Security Council condemned the violence against Myanmar protesters and called on the military to exercise restraint. Even so, in the draft statement of its position, the UN did not declare the takeover of power by the military as a coup. It is feared that this will trigger rejection from a number of countries close to Myanmar, such as China, Russia, India and Vietnam. The United Nations Special Envoy for Myanmar Christine Schraner Burgenerin a closed meeting of the UN Security Council on Friday (5/3) said that the unity and firm stance of the UN Security Council are important to push for an end to violence and for the restoration of Myanmar's democratic institutions.

The UN Security Council in a statement  cited by Reuters on Thursday (11/3) condemned violence against peaceful protesters, who also consisted of women, youth and even children. The Myanmar military was asked to exercise restraint and monitor the situation intensively. Meanwhile, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres hopes that the Security Council's statement can put pressure on the military to release the prisoners and respect the election results.

In its statement, the UN Security Council also expressed deep concern over restrictions on medical personnel, civil society, union members, journalists or media workers, and called for the immediate release of all people who were arbitrarily arrested.

Reportedly, more than 60 people were killed and around 1,800 have been arrested. The Myanmar military has also been urged to release political figures detained in the February 1 coup, including Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi. In addition, the Security Council also emphasized the importance of maintaining democratic systems and processes as well as constitutional governance, preventing violence and respecting human rights.

This UN Security Council statement is the second after the first statement expressing concern about the situation in Myanmar on February 1.

Meanwhile, China's Ambassador to the United Nations -Zhang Jun conveyed the importance for members of the Security Council to speak in one voice. According to him, now it is time for dialogue to loosen tensions and provide a path for diplomacy.

It seems that the UN Security Council's condemnation has had little impact on the Myanmar military. Many parties hope that the UN Security Council can take a more assertive and serious stance for the realization of peace in the country.

10
March

 

The United Nations is paying special attention to International Women's Day, 9 March. This year the UN published a report on the importance of paying attention to women who are suffering from conflict and war, as well as the impact of Covid19 Pandemic.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) is particularly concerned with refugees in Yemen. According to UNOCHA, the prolonged conflict in the Middle East, especially in Syria, has displaced 4 million people mainly to Yemen. Of the millions of refugees, nearly three quarters are women and children. These women are forced to struggle to support their families in the midst of suffering in refugee camps.

Attention to women in various countries is also given by the World Health Organization, WHO. It has issued a statement which is very concerning. The UN agency says one out of three women across the globe has suffered from physical or sexual violence in her lifetime. WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, revealed that there was a surprising data showing that violence against women increased in number during the Covid 19 pandemic.

In connection with this sad reality, both UNOCHA and WHO are calling for steps to defend women's rights and strive to create an equal future for them. In addition to calling for prevention of the suffering of women, especially in refugee camps, as well as violence in everyday life, the UN asks governments of various countries to make efforts from an early age. A concrete step that can be taken is to instill awareness of women's equality since in school. Through educational programs, male students are given an understanding and awareness of the importance of equality for women.

The notes issued by the United Nations agency in the context of World Women's Day certainly need the attention of governments around the world. Whether it's in developed, developing and economically underdeveloped countries, as well as countries hit by prolonged conflicts.

An indication of increasing violence against women during the Covid19 Pandemic, reminding all parties not to only concentrate on health care and prevention against it. It is very important to make efforts to overcome the impacts that arise from an economic perspective. Because as stated by WHO, bad economic conditions can encourage more violence against women.

08
March

 

 

 

 

The rice consumption of the Indonesian people per capita annually is still quite high compared to several ASEAN member countries. According to data from the World Food and Agriculture Organization Economic Cooperation and Development, in 2018, Indonesia's annual rice consumption per capita reached 135 kilograms, higher than the Philippines (115 kg), Thailand (99 kg), and Malaysia (81 kg). Therefore, rice has always been a top priority in Indonesian government policies, especially related to trade and agriculture. In 2020, rice consumption was still recorded at above 90 kilograms per person annually. The high need for this staple food requires the Indonesian government to pay special attention to its availability.

To guarantee the stock in 2021, the government will import 1 million tons of rice, through the state-owned General Logistics Company -Bulog. Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Airlangga Hartarto at the Ministry of Trade's Working Meeting last Thursday (4/3) said that maintaining the availability of rice in the country is an important thing to do so that prices can remain under control.

The government will implement two policies for the provision of domestic rice, following the rice social assistance program during the pandemic and enactment of the Regulation on Restricting Community Activities. First, the government will import 500,000 tons of rice for the Rice Reserve and another 500,000 tons according to Bulog's needs. Second, implementing the absorption of unhulled rice by Bulog with a target equal to 900,000 tons of rice during the main harvest in March-May 2021, and 500,000 tons in June-September 2021.

To reduce rice consumption, especially imported rice, the Ministry of Agriculture is targeting the national level of rice consumption to fall by 7 percent to 85 kilograms per capita in a year by 2024. With a population of 270 million people the decrease in rice consumption is equivalent to 1.77 million tons. To reduce rice consumption, food diversification is the right choice. Because it can anticipate crises, provide alternative food, drive the economy and create healthy human resources. Currently, every province in Indonesia is focused on producing local carbohydrate sources other than rice. There are at least six food commodities which production is encouraged, such as cassava, corn, sago, banana, potato and sorghum.

05
March

 

The wave of protests against the military coup in Myanmar shows no signs of abating. The ongoing rallies  in the country are the largest since the Saffron Revolution against a military regime in 2007 led by a line of Buddhist monks dressed in orange. Mass protests, marked by a movement of civil disobedience, have recently been met with a show of force by the military.

According to the BBC until Wednesday (3/3/2021), at least 50 people were reportedly killed since the upheaval against the coup on February 1.

The neighbouring countries in Southeast Asia (ASEAN) have also started calling for the military to hold back repressive actions against demonstrators. In overcoming the crisis in Myanmar, the ASEAN Foreign Ministers are working to promote dialogue between detained Leader, Aung San Suu Kyi and the military junta. This is a formidable challenge, because the ASEAN is bound by a consensus-based decision-making mechanism not to interfere with the domestic affairs of each member country.

Even so, the initiative must be taken because confrontation and bloodshed will have a serious impact on ASEAN's stability and reputation. In the virtual meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers on March 2, Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Retno Marsudi expressed deep concerns about developments in Myanmar. According to Minister Retno, if not resolved immediately, it will threaten regional peace and security. It was emphasized that all ASEAN countries have an obligation to maintain a conducive situation in the region.

The current condition of Myanmar could be a stumbling block for ASEAN in creating peace in the region. Yet, on the other hand, it could also be an opportunity to show that ASEAN is a solid group of Southeast Asian countries and can solve its own problems.

Safety and security for the people of Myanmar is of the utmost importance at this moment, besides peace of course. Likewise, other ASEAN member countries want a safe and peaceful situation in the region. Hopefully, ASEAN can take the best steps so that the Myanmar problem can be resolved immediately without causing many victims.

01
March

 

The Indonesian government is committed to continuing the Pre-Employment Card program which has been running for eleven batches in 2020. The registration for batch 12 was opened on Tuesday (23/2/2021). For the implementation this year, a budget of Rp 20 trillion has been prepared. This doubled the initial amount in the 2021 State budget which was worth Rp10 trillion. The Pre- Employment Card Program was opened for the first time on April 11, 2020. The government is targeting the number of participants who take part in the program to be 5.6 million people.

Initially, the government planned to provide an offline training for the program participants. They would receive free facilities and pocket money during the training. However, the Covid-19 pandemic changed everything. The government then used this program to become one of the social aids for the community, especially the victims of layoffs who were affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The scheme and budget amount automatically changed. Part of the training cost budget was diverted for incentives to the participants in a larger amount than originally planned. Thus, the budget for the Pre-employment Card program has increased sharply.

After a year running, of course, there are points that need attention and to be improved regarding this program, starting from the matter of appointing training partners who were considered not transparent to the training materials that some said were too simple. However, as one of the economic recovery programs from the Covid-19 pandemic, the Pre- Employment Card program, of course, has its own benefits. The government says those who lost their jobs due to the Covid-19 pandemic will be targets of the Pre-Employment Card program. During the Covid-19 pandemic, many have enjoyed the benefits of this program. Unfortunately, the selection of the participants proved to be often inaccurate, so that many were not on target. Those who still have jobs managed to get assistance. While many of the unemployed have not been reached by this program.

It is hoped that this year, the Pre-Employment Card program can run with improvements so that it can be maximized and right on target. Thereby, there needs to be joint monitoring from the community.

22
February

The performance of the Indonesian economy continues to show a direction of recovery and is already on the right track. In 2021, the government of Indonesia will continue to focus on carrying out the National Economic Recovery program to support both households and the business sector, especially Medium, Small and Micro Enterprises. To encourage consumption and increase financing for the business world, Bank Indonesia as the Central Bank -BI harmonized monetary policy, including lowering the benchmark interest rate.

The meeting of the Board of Governors of BI on 17-18 February 2021 decided to lower the BI 7-day Reverse Repo Rate by 25 basis points (bps) to 3.5 percent. The Central Bank also lowered the interest rate for placement of rupiah funds by 2.75 percent and the rate for provision of rupiah funds by 4.25 percent. The decline in interest rates this time continues the trend that has been going on since early 2020, when BI cut its benchmark interest rate by 150 bps.

This decision is consistent with the forecast for low inflation and maintained stability of the rupiah exchange rate. This is also an effort to boost the momentum of national economic recovery.

The 25-bps cut back in the BI benchmark interest rate was also driven by the slow transmission of the BI benchmark interest rate to banking interest. Throughout 2020, bank lending rates only fell 83 bps to 9.7 percent, although in the same period, the BI benchmark interest rate had fallen by 125 basis points to a level of 3.75 percent.

Apart from easing interest rates, BI also took other steps as a follow-up to the synergy of the Financial System Stability Committee's policies. From March 1 to December 31, 2021, Bank Indonesia will relax the provision for down payment for credit or motor vehicle financing to a minimum of 0 percent for all types of new motorized vehicles. During the same period, BI will also relax the ratio of loans or financing to value for credit or property financing to a maximum of 100 percent. This policy applies to all types of property, from landed houses, flats, to shop houses or home offices.

All of these stimuli are expected to be able to encourage Indonesian economic recovery which has slowed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

17
February

 

The Myanmar military junta did not budge despite pressure from the United States and the United Nations. Instead of reducing violence against protesters, the Military Rulers increased their pressure on Aung San Suu Kyi.

After being accused of illegally possessing a walkie talkie, the civilian leader faces a second criminal charge. Military authorities accuse Suu Kyi of violating Myanmar's Natural Disaster Act.

Last Saturday the military junta has enacted a law to be able to arrest anyone deemed to be disturbing security without going through procedures. Even so, the people of Myanmar continued to protest against the military coup and asked their leader Aung San Suu Kyi to be released.

The United Nations has warned the junta to stop treating protesters harshly. In a statement, UN envoy Christine Schraner Burgener said there would be severe consequences if the military carried out acts of violence against protesters. The UN also emphasizes that blocking the internet violates the basic principles of democracy.

Against various pressures, including sanctions imposed by the United States, the military junta only stated that it would hold a general election. Without confirming when it will be implemented, they promised to hand over power to whoever wins the election. In the lead-up to the coup, the military had stated that the elections, which the LDP party won absolutely, were fraudulent.

Myanmar is a country in Southeast Asia that has recently embraced a democratic system through general elections. The change in the political and state administration system in Myanmar is one of the reasons that has made ASEAN accept Myanmar as a member. At that time, western countries including the United States saw democratization in Myanmar as a good sign and a new era. But a recent military coup in the country has reversed international views. Meanwhile, the military, which is now in power after staging a coup, seems to have not been too disturbed by international views, criticism or even sanctions.

If the United States immediately pays attention and imposes sanctions, this will not be the case with China. So far, China seems silent and does not react to the coup in Myanmar. It is only natural that the civilian protesters, in one of their demands, ask Beijing not to support the military junta. Whether China will act differently from the United States, the international community still has to wait for further developments.

15
February

Stop Spreading Hoax

Written by
Published in Editorial

One piece of little news in the long weekends circulated that the police are looking for a Sampang resident who published hoaxes or fake news on his social media accounts. It said that in Lar Village, Sampang, Madura, East Java, there was a bloody riot which resulted in many victims. Maybe, this can be considered little news because the perpetrator is not a public figure and the location of the incident is not in a big city. However, what is interesting is that law enforcement for spreading fake news has actually reached remote areas in Indonesia.

The spread of hoaxes can have a troubling impact. So, it is necessary to carry out strict law enforcement. In addition, the perpetrator is said to have spread fake news that has gone viral on social media more than once.

Law enforcement against the perpetrator who spread fake news should be strictly enforced. In the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic today, there is a tendency for people to increasingly rely on social media for information, even with a very high level of trust. It seems as if anyone could upload any content very easily and then spread it and could be read by everyone. This is, of course, a new challenge for law enforcers because very often, the contents are things that are disturbing to the community.

The circulation of hoaxes, misinformation and disinformation is not easy to stop. In the last three years, the number of hoaxes spread across various platforms in Indonesia has continued to grow significantly.

It is necessary to raise awareness among people to be more careful in spreading any content or information on social media. In a country with a very large geographical location with a population of diverse ethnicities and backgrounds, such as Indonesia, the impact of hoaxes or fake news can indeed be very detrimental. Therefore, education about healthy and useful contents needs to be continuously provided in order to form a wise culture in social media.

12
February

Tomorrow, February 13, 2021 will be commemorated as the 10th World Radio Day. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization -UNESCO designated this date as World Radio Day because of the role of this media in all walks of life.

The history of the commemoration of International Radio Day began in 1946. February 13, 1946 is the day when the UN for the first time operated UN radio to disseminate information about its activities to the entire world community.

What is interesting to note is how radio still exists, especially amid the existence of many new media platforms nowadays. Whether realized or not, the advancement of new media, such as the internet does affects the existence of radio. Even so, in fact, it turns out that not all regions of a country can be reached by the internet, whether it is for technological reasons or geographic location. This makes radio still the media of choice for access to news and entertainment, especially in remote areas. The frequency of the short waves is proven to be able to deliver information to various places that may not even be penetrated by the internet.

Based on data released by UNESCO in 2019, there are around 44,000 radio stations around the world. In some places, the number of radio stations is even higher than other media. Take for example, there are more radio stations in Africa than newspapers and television channels.

Amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, radio is a very reliable medium. When people are expected not to leave the house, radio is a very effective medium to be used to obtain various information or as study facilities at home, not to mention its very important function in times of disaster. In addition, with the advancement of digital technology, the role and function of radio can increasingly be improved following the times. Radio with its uniqueness and technological advancement that continues to develop, is able to penetrate boundaries and spaces to disseminate news, information and entertainment to listeners.

It is hoped   that in the future, the uniqueness of radio can be used more for things that are needed by the community, across time and space.