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Editorial

Editorial (921)

23
August

LOMBOK REVIVED

Since the first earthquake 6.4 on Richter scale to 6.9 SR on August 19 on Lombok Island and surrounding areas has caused more than 500 people killed, more than 400 thousand people displaced, and more than 74 thousand units of houses were damaged. The estimated loss would reach Rp 7.7 trillion.

Seeing the impact of the Lombok earthquake, many parties proposed that the situation has to be declared a national disaster. However, the government considers that this is not necessary to decide the Lombok disaster as a national disaster. Then, a lot of people have questioned the government's policy.

Regarding the polemic, Head of the Information Data Center and Public Relations of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency -BNPB, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho explained the matter of determining national disaster. The determination must be based on five main variables: the number of victims, loss of property, damage to infrastructure and facilities, wide coverage of areas affected by disasters, and the socio-economic impacts.

Sutopo believes that the indicators are not enough. There are fundamental indicators that are difficult to measure -the condition of the existence and function of the regional government whether it is collapsed or not. The 2004 Aceh tsunami was designated as a national disaster at that time because the regional government, both provincial and district/city, including the central elements in Aceh such as the Kodam and the Regional Police was totally paralyzed. The government later declared the national disaster. The risk is that all tasks of the regional government are taken over by the central government, including the general government.

With the existence of national disaster status, the door is open as wide as possible for international humanitarian assistance by other countries and the international community. This is a consequence of the Geneva Convention. New problems related to international assistance often arise, because it involves political, economic, social, cultural, defense and security matters. So, there are consequences if the Indonesian government determines the national disaster status. Sutopo added, since the 2004 Aceh tsunami until now, there has been no disaster in Indonesia which has been declared a national disaster. Because, the Indonesian people have learned a lot from the experience of handling the 2004 Aceh tsunami.

Indeed, disasters with casualties are quite likely to be discouraged that the central government establishes a national disaster. Many parties may not understand the disaster management as a whole, including determining the status and level of the disaster. They assume that with national disaster status, there will be easy access to national resources. But the fact is that even without national disaster status, the government has mobilized all national resources. A lot of personnel from central elements such as Indonesian Armed Forces -TNI, National Police -Polri, National SAR Agency -Basarnas, and related state ministries have been deployed on the hit locations. Huge logistical assistance from the government agencies and community has also been sent to Lombok.

The Indonesian nation must be united. Disasters are humanitarian affairs. Let’s get rid of differences in ideology, politics, religion, and others to help the disaster victims. The Lombok community needs the help of all parties. National energy must be united to help the people of Lombok. Without the status of the national disaster, the Lombok disaster is also the disaster of Indonesian nation.

22
August

The 2018 Asian Games have succeeded in bringing together two Koreas, namely North Korea and South Korea in the spirit of sportsmanship in the Asian Games. The Indonesian people certainly should be happy with what has happened. The two Korean contingents went hand in hand during the athletes parade. From the faces of the athletes can be seen  a reflection of happiness. The 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia, is taking  place along with a series of diplomatic efforts, including those carried out by the United States and North Korea. Starting from the Summit in Singapore, North Korea and the United States continued diplomatic efforts. Follow-up meetings have been conducted not only in the context of denuclearization of North Korea but towards the reconciliation of the two Koreas. This week there was also a touching event, some  South Koreans made a visit  to North Korea to meet their long lost family members. The senior Koreans were separated and live in different places  due to the civil war that occurred at the end of the second world war. Indonesia is recorded in history related to the unification and reconciliation of the people  which have been separated,  even fought each other. In the 80s for instance,  Indonesia had become the initiator of the unification of Cambodia. The Jakarta Informal Meeting among the warring factions was held in Bogor, West Java in the Suharto era. It was continued with further meetings and ended very well with the unification of Cambodia. Reflecting on historical experience, the momentum of the 2018 Asian Games held in Jakarta is a good time to contribute to the reconciliation of the two Koreas. As a good host, Indonesia can make the Asian Games a momentum for realization of  lasting peace in the Korean Peninsula.

17
August

Lira Crisis in Turkey

Written by
Published in Editorial

 

In a fairly short time, the value of the Turkish currency, Lira, has fallen by 16%. This has happened since US President Donald Trump, imposed the import tariff for Turkish steel and aluminum twice as much as before. This action was taken by Trump, after Turkey refused to  release a US priest,  Andrew Brunson, who was detained by the Turkish government for allegedly being involved in a coup 2 years ago. Before the imposition of sanctions, the US had frozen  the assets of two Turkish ministers. This was followed by Turkey in retaliation and did the same thing  to two US ministers.

After the imposition of US sanctions, Turkey immediately imposed import tariffs  more than 100 percent on products such as vehicles, alcoholic beverages, and more than 50 percent on 3 other types of products from the US. The United States is planning  to cancel the sale of super-advanced F-35 aircraft to Turkey.

Some policies were immediately taken by the Central Bank of Turkey to keep the value of the Lira from falling further. But the move cannot stop the decline in Lira. When the Turkish economy is facing problems, Qatar appears as a savior. In a meeting between Turkish President Racip Tayyip Erdogan and the Emir of Qatar, Sheik Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani in Ankara on Wednesday (August 15, 2018), Qatar promised a substantial investment.

Meanwhile, in a statement on Twitter's social media account, Turkish  presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin revealed, Qatar promised a direct investment of 15 billion US dollars. Whereas before, as an  ally of the United States, Qatar had not reacted when Turkey was sanctioned by the US. Before experiencing a crisis of a decrease in the value of Lira, Turkey was also rocked by a decline in the number of tourist visits during the coup in 2016. While  every year the country records  no less than 40 million tourists visit. On the other hand, when there is a decline in Lira's value lately, tourists seem to get a blessing, because the price of international branded goods sold in Turkey also falls according to the decline in lira value against the US dollar.

The crisis that occurred in Turkey due to  US import tariffs was also experienced by several other countries. The era of globalization that causes interrelationships between countries, can make the crisis in Turkey also spread to other countries and regions. Of course, it is not expected that this crisis will occur in a long time. The question is, will  the United States continue to impose tariffs on Turkey until the country frees the detained US citizen? The world looks forward to the end of this drama.

16
August

 

According to the Central Statistics Agency -BPS, Indonesia's trade balance in July 2018 experienced a deficit worth $2.03 billion dollars, the biggest deficit over the last five years. This figure is the difference between the import value worth $18.27 billion dollars and the export value worth $16.24 billion dollars. The total trade deficit in January to July 2018 was recorded at $3.09 billion dollars.

In a press conference attended by Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Darmin Nasution, and Governor of Bank Indonesia –BI, Perry Warjiyo, after a limited cabinet meeting at the Presidential Office in Jakarta on Tuesday (14/8), Minister of Finance, Sri Mulyani Indrawati pointed out that the government would take drastic and decisive steps in import control related to the balance of payments conditions that are increasingly unhappy. 

Minister Sri Mulyani said that Indonesia's current account deficit in the first quarter of 2018 was only around 2%. But in the second quarter of 2018, it reached 3% of gross domestic product -GDP. Imports of consumer goods, raw materials and capital goods increased seriously in the second quarter of 2018.

Head of the Central Statistics Agency, Suhariyanto said in Jakarta on Wednesday (8/15) that one of the government's efforts to reduce the trade balance deficit is by reducing the import of commodities that can be produced domestically. There will be 500 commodities to be re-evaluated, especially commodities with high local goods compared to imported ones, such as palm oil, paper, rubber and plastic. 

Meanwhile, an economist at the Institute for Development of Economics and Finance (Indef), Bhima Yudhistira remarked that Indonesia's trade balance deficit could be depleted by the end of 2018 if the government seriously halts the import of raw materials for infrastructure projects, such as iron steel and power plant turbines. The government also needs to accelerate the implementation of 20% biodiesel utilization (B20) in the fuel content, so that oil and gas imports can be reduced.

Similarly, Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs, Darmin Nasution at a Business Lunch event with the theme "Indonesian Economy Alert in Political Year" on Thursday (2/8) in Jakarta said that the expansion of 20% Biodiesel use (B20) could reduce the trade balance deficit, because with this policy, oil imports will be reduced. The oil and gas deficit during Semester I 2018 reached $5.4 billion dollars.

In addition to efforts to reduce imports, Bhima Yudhistira hoped that the government will again push the export performance of leading commodities such as palm oil and rubber. He urged the government to provide incentives for export-oriented industries.

It is expected that more quality local products can be exported abroad, and many Indonesian imports will be reduced. So, the value of exports will be much higher than the import value, and the trade balance deficit can be immediately overcome.

15
August

Will the armistice in the Gaza Strip really come true? This question is really relevant, related to the issue of the ceasefire which is now being discussed in the Israeli government. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on Sunday, has expressed a desire for a ceasefire with Palestine in the Gaza Strip. The Jerusssalem Post newspaper, August 13 reported that Netanyahu's statement was before the Israeli Prime Minister led his cabinet meeting.  Netanyahu's wish was raised, shortly after the Israeli army bombarded the Gaza region. Not less than 168 Palestinians died from the increasingly tense conflict in the Gaza Strip which was triggered by the transfer of the Israeli capital to Jerusalem. Israel is increasingly aggressive in  its attacks by deploying air forces to the Palestinian territories in Gaza Strip on Wednesday and Thursday, August 8-9, 2018. In the armed conflict, many   Palestinians died including children  and pregnant women. At least 170 points have become Israeli air strike targets  on the August 8 attacks. The Palestinians, in this case the  Hamas,  who occupy the Gaza Strip, responded that the ceasefire has actually been carried out. The Hamas fighters stated that the two sides had actually done it  since last week. Hamas stated that the ceasefire was carried out thanks to the Egyptian participation. The facts on the ground indeed show that at the end of last week, there were no more attacks by the Israeli air force. Regarding Egypt's participation as stated by Hamas, it is justified by the news that actually Prime Minister Netanyahu was secretly visiting Egypt. Israeli television reported that Netanyahu last May met up with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi regarding a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip. The question is, is it  true that a ceasefire will occur between the Israeli military and the Palestinian Hamas and there will  be no more  civilians become  victims? The statement of the Israeli Prime Minister before the cabinet meeting earlier this week may become  a sign that for the first time a ceasefire was seriously discussed in a cabinet meeting. If this commitment manifests, the fear of a re-open war between Israel and Palestinian Hamas, as happened in 2008, can be avoided.

13
August

The 18th Asian Games participants have arrived in Indonesia. Even, some of them have already held a match, such as football sports. On Sunday (12/8), Palestinian team won the match against the Laos team in the match of Group A. In another match, Indonesian team also managed to defeat China Taipei team. Athletes from other sports have arrived in Jakarta and Palembang. Currently, there are at least 467 athletes and officials from 34 countries who stay at Kemayoran Athlete's Housing (Wisma Atlit) in Jakarta. The contingents from the Philippines, Malaysia, Syria, the People's Republic of North Korea, the United Arab Emirates and others have arrived. Officially, the 18th Asian Games will be opened on Saturday, August 18, 2018 at Bung Karno Sports Center. Indonesia's hard work to have prepared the entire arena of competition and facilities for more than three years will soon be felt and assessed by the contingents from 45 other Asian countries and even the world. At least, positive assessments for Kemayoran Athletes' Housing have been issued by Vice President of the ASIA Olympic Honorary, Wei Jizhong. Through his press release, after visiting Kemayoran Athlete's Housing on last Saturday (11/8), Wei Jizhong said that he was satisfied with the athletes' lodging facilities. He said that overall, the Athletes Village in Kemayoran has exceeded his expectations. Being satisfied with the facilities, a number of athletes also expressed the same statement. Director of the Athlete Village and Village Service Department, Andrewan Inggog Trina Ananta said that a number of new residents of the Athlete's Housing also stated that they were happy with all services, such as pick-up, meals, and hospitality. It is still too soon to find out the comments of all the participants in all 2018 Asian Games facilities. But at least, good comments at the beginning of the implementation motivated Indonesia to provide more services for all contingents. Not all athletes and official teams feel and enjoy the results of Indonesia's efforts to prepare for the four-year Asian sporting event, because the peak attendance of participants is predicted to occur on August 14-17. Providing the best has become the determination of the Indonesian people for the Asian Games. To expedite the traffic flow from Athletes' Housing to the arena of matches, the even-odd policy has been applied. This policy is carried out so that athletes can arrive on time at the arena. Indonesia, which is famous for its hospitality, will be proven by all participants. A deeply good impression for all participants is the wish of the Indonesian nation. Hopefully, the 2018 Asian Games will be one of the best performances during the Asian Games. Welcome and have nice competition for the participants of the 2018 Asian Games!

10
August

At present, the status on social media can also be a problem in the relations between two countries. As happened when the Canadian Foreign Minister, Chrystia Freeland last week voiced her concern through social media about the detention of Saudi women activist, Samar Badawi. Following the statement, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia recalled its Ambassador in Canada and expelled the Canadian Ambassador from Riyadh. Several other actions were carried out by the kingdom. It has called back some students studying in Canada, forbidding Saudis from going to the country and stopping Saudi flight services to Canada. The Saudis insist that they will not allow other countries to interfere in their internal affairs. Saudi actions are supported by neighboring countries in the region such as Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Palestine. The United States, which is close to both of them, until now has not clearly supported one of them. If with Canada, the United States has a relationship within the NATO framework. With Saudi Arabia, there is a close bilateral forum that binds the two countries. At present, the relationship between US President Donald Trump and the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau is not very good. Whereas with Saudi Arabia, President Trump has been known to provide more space to share communication. The first country President Trump visited after becoming president was Saudi Arabia. In March this year, the US also received the visit of Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau apologized for the status updates on social media that have heated up Canada's relations with Saudi Arabia. There are efforts to improve the worsening relationship. Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland also made contacts with the Saudi Foreign Minister, Adel al Jubeir. It seems that this problem will be resolved by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Canada. Hopefully, the relations between the two countries will be good again immediately. The settlement can be done directly by the two countries or other countries can make mediation. So, the Middle East region, which has been hit by various conflicts, will not have another problem.

08
August

The President of the United States once again took a decision without paying attention to the views of his allies. Donald Trump has confirmed that the United States will continue to impose sanctions on Iran. To any government that trade with Iran, the United States will break its trade relations. In his statement, Tuesday (7 August 2018), in Washington, Trump stressed that various sanctions would be imposed on Tehran, one of which was Iranian oil exports. The US imposition of various sanctions for Iran, following the withdrawing from the Comprehensive Action Plan which is also referred to as the Iran nuclear agreement, was launched earlier in 2018. The agreement began to be discussed during Barack Obama's reign. Over the deal, Iran has taken steps toward nuclear restrictions. Nevertheless Donald Trump, assessed the Obama era's Washington policy as having benefited Iran unilaterally. On the statement of Donald Trump who stressed the imposition of sanctions on his country, Iranian President Hasan Rouhani called it a psychological war. The Iranian president said that Trump's move was intended to spread the seeds of division among the Iranian people. Are allies of the United States unaware of Donald Trump's decision to give more sanctions to Iran? As many international mass media reported, Washington's allies disagreed with the decision. The European Union, for example, will continue to implement the initial agreement pioneered by President Barack Obama. The European Union argued that its opposition to Washington's decision was to protect companies in the country that have business relations with Tehran. The question then is, who will keep the nuclear agreement with Iran, or will the allies join tyhe US in boycotting Iran? Only time will show. Nevertheless, it is interesting to take a note of Donald Trump's statement along with the decision to impose stricter sanctions on Iran. Trump said he remains open to reach a more comprehensive agreement with Iran.

06
August

Uniited States of America Foreign Affairs Minister, Michael Richard Pompeo visited Indonesia for 2 days on August 4th — 5th 2018. It was the first time for Pompeo to visit Indonesia after he was inaugurated as US Foreign Affairs Minister by President Donald Trump on April 27th 2018. Pompeo replaced Rex Tillerson who was fired by the President by twitter.During in Indonesia, Pompeo with 5 delegation members held bilateral meeting with Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi in Pancasila Building, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jakarta, on Saturday,(4/8). On the meeting, Pompeo and Retno Marsudi did not only talk about some problems related to bilateral relationships of the 2 countries, but also talked some regional and global issue. One of them is the issue of Palestine. Indonesia offered two states solution as the only solution to realize the peace in Palestine. The two states solution proclaimed that “the two states for the 2 citizens”. By the solution, Palestine would live be side by side with Israel, in west of Jordan River. The solution had been actually set through the resolution of United Nations General Assembly 194 which was adopted on December 11th 1948.Related to the effort of realizing peace in Palestine, US President Donald Trump was reported had formed a special team to arrange peace proposal for Palestine and Israel. According to President Trump, the peace plan would be an important history which was called by “The Agreement of This Century”.The discussion of conflict resolution of Israel-Palestine in the bilateral meeting proves that Indonesia is serious in supporting peace in Palestine. Indonesian people and have since long time ago had attention and support towards the realization of the peace in Palestine. Minister Pompeo’s green light on the two states solution is also a good sign that USA also supports the efforts to build peace in Palestine.

03
August

 

Monday (July 30, 2018) is a historic day for the people of Zimbabwe. For the first time, since the fall of former President Robert Mugabe late last year, Zimbabwe held the Presidential, National and Regional Parliaments elections. In the Presidential election, 23 people registered as candidates. But only two have claimed to have the support of the people's votes; namely incumbent president  Emmerson Mnangagwa of ZANU PF party and leader of the opposition Movement of Democratic Change  (MDC),  Nelson Chamisa. If no candidate gets a vote of more than 50%, then a second round of voting will be held on 8 September. President Mnangagwa claimed to win this election, so  did Chamisa. The MDC leader even accused the allegations of fraud, though was  denied by the ruling camp. The chaos in this election has taken at least 3 lives. The government blamed the opposition as the cause of the riots. The provisional announcement of Zimbabwe's legislative elections Wednesday (1 August 2018) says the current ruling party, ZANU-PF, has won 110 of the 210-seats in the  lower house. The opposition MDC won 41 seats, other parties 2 seats, while the remaining 57 seats are still being counted. With the achievement of more than half of the parliamentary seats, the ZANU-PF party may win this election. Like the presidential election, the opposition also refuses to accept this election result because it is considered full of fraud. Meanwhile, the father of Zimbabwe,  Robert Mugabe (94 years) also participated in this election. However, apparently he was still hurt  for being  forcibly taken down last year, making him speak out against his own party, ZANU-PF a few days before the election. He even encouraged people to vote for parties outside ZANU-PF. On election day, Mugabe chose not to issue any statement. Seeing this development and looking at the results of the General Elections, it is certainly not expected to increase the tension in Zimbabwe. Opposition parties should keep  sympathizers not to be anarchists, while the ruling party also provides an opportunity to recount if there is a demand. Anyone who becomes the President and any party that controls the parliament are expected to be a protector for all Zimbabweans.