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Diplomatic Corner

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The first information is that the United States of America - Indonesia explore cooperation on Halal certificate.

The United States of America‘s Trade Department wants to explore cooperation with the Ministry of Religious Affairs n in Halal Certificate. This was stated by Deputy Assistant of the US Trade Department for Asia, Diane Farrell when visiting the Ministry of Religious Affairs recently.

Diane Farrel was received by Head of the Halal Product Security Guarantee Board, Sukoso and also his staffs. Diane wanted to make sure that the US products have been suitable with standard, in accordance with existing law when the process of halal certification has been officially conducted by the Board.   

Responding to the case, Head of the Board, Sukoso said that the Halal Product Security Guarantee Board will officially operate on October 17, 2019. He also explained that his office is preparing the steps of halal certification and technological information system which supports halal certification. Sukoso also said that his office is intensively introducing the Board to the stakeholders and arrange the plan of memorandum of Understanding -MoU with the countries which market their products in Indonesia.

The MoU with other countries is much needed, because the system and standard of halal products in certain country is different from the system and standard of halal which is used in Indonesia. Sukoso further said, that in addition to the labeling of halal, non-halal product is also required to attach non-halal label. This is aimed to protect the consumers. He views that if non-halal label is not listed on product’s package, it will make consumers confused because not all consumers understand the terms which are listed on product’s composition.

The next information is that Gadjah Mada University Vocation and Jeonju Volunteer Center of South Korea  strengthen cooperation in culture.

The Vocational School of Gadjah Mada University and Jeonju Volunteer Center of South Korea have strengthened cooperation in social and cultural field recently. The strengthening was implemented through the signature of MoU. The signing was conducted by Dean of the University, Wikan Sakarinto and Director of the Center, Park Jeong Seok at the Vocational School of Gadjah Mada University. The cooperation was initiated by Diploma-3 program of Korean language of the University which was addressed to increase volunteer’s culture.

Previously, the social organization focused on children throughout the world and the Gadjah Mada University had run cooperation in similar field. Last year, there was social action  at Patuk II Elementary School, Gunungkidul regency. For two weeks, students of Jeonju Volunteer Center’s volunteers renovated school infrastructure and taught Korean culture and language to students. Wikan Sakarinto appreciated the cooperation which was conducted by Vocational School of Gadjah Mada University and Jeonju Volunteer Center of South Korea. Wikan also hoped that the next cooperation which has been agreed by both sides, can be developed.

We end Diplomatic Corner with the news on the Indonesian embassy in Seoul holds writing competition.

The writing competition is oriented for more Indonesian students in Indonesia and South Korea. Beginning early February, the competition will be closed at the end of February. Meanwhile, the prize will be distributed in March. The Indonesian Ambassador to Korea, Umar Hadi said that based on the regulation, the winner of the competition, who lives in South Korea, will be given tour package to Bali. Meanwhile, the winner, who lives in Indonesia, is provided a visit package to South Korea.

The theme of the competition is "To Interpret special strategic partnership in Indonesian and South Korean relations".  As it is known, at the visit of South Korean president to Jakarta at the end of last year, the relations of the two countries was improved through 'Strategic Partnership' which was initiated in 2006 to become 'Special Strategic Partnership'. The competition is conducted in the frame of President Joko Widodo’s visit to South Korea which is scheduled this year.



Indonesia is a country that lives in diversity, having more than 1,100 regional languages, 714 tribes and six official religions, namely Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism. This diversity and difference, of course, requires a sense of mutual understanding. Otherwise, it will lead to friction that sometimes triggers disunity.

Islam becomes the majority religion, with the number of believers in Indonesia reaching 88 percent. However, this does not mean that Islam controls all aspects of socio-political life, nation and state. Muslims in Indonesia are very concerned about harmony among religious followers and they have a high tolerance of other faiths.


So far, Islamic scholars or ulamas are considered very instrumental in maintaining harmony and diversity in Indonesia. Throughout the history of the founding of Indonesia, they have been able to maintain the unity of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia -NKRI. Their contribution in maintaining unity is also unquestionable. It is not surprising that President Joko Widodo in his speech at Haul Majemuk Masyayikh at Pesantren (Ponpes) Salafiyah Syafi'iyah Sukorejo, Situbondo, East Java on Saturday (03 Feb), said that the preservation of Indonesia's diversity is due to the major role of the ulamas.

The role of the ulamas became a decisive factor in several heroic events prior to and after the proclamation of Indonesian independence. Ahead of the proclamation of independence, the involvement of KH Abdul Wahid Hasyim, the founder of Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia's largest Islamic organization, in the Preparatory Committee for Indonesian Independence (PPKI) has an important meaning in maintaining cultural, ethnic and even religious diversity. The tough debate about the Jakarta Charter at that time could be solved well, because of its broad Islamic views, without having to be trapped in the formalization of religious teachings.

In addition, after the proclamation, when there were many separatists in various regions in Indonesia, who want to separate themselves from the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia, Islamic scholars have played a major role in maintaining, and upholding Indonesia’s unity.

Indonesia is a country with belief in one God, humanity, and a sense of unity and it always tries to solve problems through deliberation, and social justice. It is the duty of the Indonesian nation to keep the state based on Pancasila and the 1945 Constitutions ass mandated by the founders of the nation who have struggled to fight for the sovereignty of the nation and the state in the sense of ‘Bhinneka Tunggal Ika’ or Unity in Diversity’.


The conflict in Yemen

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Yemeni government has not managed to solve the Houthi rebel issue, which controls some of the territory in the north of Yemen. Now, a new conflict occurs on which previously, a group  also fought the Houthi. The group calls itself as the Southern Transitional Council -STC and supports the paramilitary group of the Southern Rebel Troop -SRF occupying the capital Aden.  Yemen's interim government led by Abdoul Rabbo Mansyour Hadi is based in Aden, after the capital of San'a occupied by the Houthi rebels. Fighting between paramilitaries and government forces lasted for 3 days and they even managed to surround the Presidential House in Aden on 30 January 2018. Earlier on Sunday, STC had issued an ultimatum to stage a coup if President Mansour Hadi had not reshuffled his cabinet, which was considered corrupt.  Those who are in in the list are required to step down, such as Prime Minister, Ahmed bin Dagher and his cabinet members. But President Mansour Hadi persisted and did not change the composition of his cabinet. In fact, the leader of the rebel, Aidarous al-Zubaidi was previously a partner of President Abdoul Hadi. Zubaidi helped Hadi fight Houthi in the Aden region and was later appointed to be the city's governor. The verbal clash and mutual accusations are inevitable, after Hadi considers al-Zubaidi to receive financial and armed support from the United Arab Emirates. Zubaidi countered the charge by saying that the Hadi government was corrupt and tried to eliminate the STC. The relationship of these two allies was immediately away and opposite. Thus, the Yemeni government faces two fronts at once: in the North facing Houthi rebels and in the south facing the STC rebellion. Yemen's situation is apprehensive, because instead of getting better but even becoming uncertain. Under these conditions, Indonesia as a friendly country of Yemen should encourage the parties and states involved to establish dialogue. Everyone knows that the victims of the conflict must be civilians. Consequently, both sides become victims.



Indonesia is now pursuing its economic growth target. Therefore, several efforts are made by the government by issuing various policies and regulations such as facilitating investment permits for foreign workers to be able to carry out their activities in Indonesia.

Regarding the pursuit of Indonesia's economic growth target, in a limited meeting on investment and exports that was held on Wednesday, January 31, President Joko Widodo instructed all cabinet ministers to simplify the procedures of investment, exports, and entry of foreign workers as experts to Indonesia. Thus, he instructed ministries to support the performance of trade investments in order the permit work of foreign workers -TKA is not complicated and this must be simplified.

Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs, Darmin Nasution said that the government does need foreign workers to boost Indonesia’s economic growth. However, the foreign workerswho are in need are those whomaster a specific sector, such as in the field of technology, especially e-commerce. Minister Darmin Nasution views that so far, many foreign workers have complained about the difficulty of obtaining a residence permit. By giving the ease, the foreign workers can be attracted to encourage the digital economy.

Meanwhile, Minister of Industry, Airlangga Hartarto admitted that Indonesia needs additional foreign workers on which Indonesia becomes one of the main countries of investment destination in Southeast Asia (ASEAN). He affirmed that some foreign investors are asking the government to allow their workforce intoIndonesia to develop business and capital.

To support the acceleration of economic development, in fact the government needs qualified experts in their respective fields so that there is no problem in the handling. Facilitating the permit of foreign workers' stay in order to support the economic acceleration program is rightful to be done by the current stakeholders in a bid to realize prosperous Indonesia and fulfill the campaign promises. However, the question is whether about 250 Indonesian people  are unable to occupy the position of experts in their respective fields(?) What if the government is open to invite Indonesian experts who live abroad to come back home in a bid to build their homeland and work according to their respective fields. In addition, it should be affirmed that the foreign workers who are allowed to work are skilled ones with high managerial capacitydirectors, commissioners and advisors. They are also oriented to transfer knowledge instead of technical workers in the field. This is aimed at  protecting a large number of potential young workforces from the threat of unemployment.



President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has shown his sincerity with high confidence by making a state visit to Afghanistan. Ending his trip to five countries in South Asia a few days ago, President Jokowi under the tight guard of the Government of Afghanistan, has shown sympathy for the country which is being  hit by  ongoing conflicts.

As President of a predominantly Muslim country, President Jokowi has shown his sincerity in enhancing cooperation between both nations and  States. On the other hand, it also shows a great desire for peace in Afghanistan that has been plagued  by  violence and war for decades. President Joko Widodo is the second President of Indonesia visited  Kabul. Previously 57 years ago, Indonesia’s first  President, Soekarno, had  visited Afghanistan, but under different circumstances, of course.

By  visiting   Kabul, President Jokowi also showed a very high confidence amid  the violence that often occurs in the capital city of Afghanistan. A few hours before the President arrived in Kabul a bomb exploded in one of the military installations. The suicide bomb killed hundreds of people, both in Kabul and elsewhere. Although the Afghan government is much assisted by US troops, attacks are still often carried out by militants in different parts of the country. Indonesia is certainly concerned about the condition and fate of the people of Afghanistan. They actually live in a country that holds great potential of natural wealth. However, civil wars that continue to rage, has caused a very alarming condition among the people in that country.

On the commitment of President Joko Widodo to visit his country, Afghan President Sahraf Ghani, expressed his high appreciation. This was shown by presenting the Medal of Ghazi Aminullah award to the Indonesian Head of State  during a luncheon at the Presidential Palace in Kabul, Monday, January 29, 2018

The medal is a form of respect of  Afghanistan towards Joko Widodo who is considered firm and courageous in advancing bilateral relations between Indonesia and Afghanistan, especially in peace building in the country. Meanwhile, Indonesia is also grateful to the Afghan government for welcoming the Indonesian President with a very tight security, so that the state visit went well.

Whether after the visit of Joko Widodo, the conditions in Afghanistan will change for the better, all of course depends on the Afghan government and the people themselves to solve their problems. However, the President Joko Wododo's visit has at least inspired the need for a peaceful effort by the Afghans to resolve the problems within their country.( kbl ) 



In 2018, Indonesia is going to host two international events, namely the 18th Asian Games from 18 August to 2 September 2018 in  Jakarta and Palembang, South Sumatra and the annual meeting of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund -IMF on October 12-18 in Bali. The government must provide a lot of funds for these two international events.

For the 2018 Asian Games, Indonesia's investment as a host reaches approximately Rp 30 trillion and the implementation of the annual meeting of the World Bank and the IMF is not so huge since it is only held in one city.

The organizing of these two international events will serve as a model to calculate the economic impact. The National Development Planning Agency -BAPPENAS is preparing a study on the economic impacts of these two international activities.

It is reasonable to calculate the impact of all costs incur, not only from the financial aspect but also the impact on multi-sectors. Head of BAPPENAS, Bambang Brodjonegoro said that the economic impact assessment of an activity needs to be done to measure how much the activity affects the domestic economy and not just from the financial aspect. He also explained that BAPPENAS will calculate the economic impact of each event twice both pra-event as a projection, and post-event as a description of the realization as well as evaluation materials.

Several countries hosting international events have undergone the study and calculation of the economic impact of each activity. Indonesia should have started to make a study of the economic impact of every international event.

The results of the study are expected to increase revenue from all sectors, not only the tourism sector of the city that hosts the implementation, but also the surrounding areas. The more expected impact, of course, is the involvement of micro, small and medium businesses in every activity.

Hopefully, the model of the study that BAPPENAS will undertake for Asian  Games and the annual meeting of World Bank and IMF can be an input for subsequent economic activities. So, every time Indonesia hosts any international activities, the economic impact will spread to many sectors.


Indonesian President, Joko Widodo conducted a series of state visits in South Asia, namely Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh from 24 to 28 January 2018. In this visit, he was accompanied by several ministers of the Working Cabinet, such as Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi, Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs, Darmin Nasution, Minister of Trade, Enggartiasto Lukita, and Cabinet Secretary, Pramono Anung.

Sri Lanka became the first country visited by President Joko Widodo on January 24 to 25, then India on January 25-26 and Pakistan on January 26-27, and Bangladesh on 27--28 January 2018. Later from Bangladesh, President Joko Widodo resumed his trip to Afghanistan on January 29, 2018.

"Opening New Opportunities" became the theme of the President's state visit. The main focus of the visit is to enhance and develop economic cooperation with South Asia, including trade, energy, connectivity and infrastructure development.

President Joko Widodo's visit to several countries in South Asia is considered to be quite successful, resulting in some agreements on cooperation with countries visited in accordance with the theme, "Opening New Opportunities".

On the visit to Sri Lanka, President Joko Widodo agreed on a number of trade and economic cooperation with Sri Lankan President, Maithripala Sirisena.

Meanwhile in India, in addition to attending the ASEAN-India Summit, President Joko Widodo also held a bilateral meeting with Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi who created the same agreements.

During his visit to Pakistan, President Joko Widodo had the opportunity to speak at the National Assembly of Pakistan. In addition, in a bilateral meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, the signing of a memorandum of understanding on energy and trade was agreed. Indonesia agreed to supply Liquefied Natural Gas -LNG to Pakistan.

President Joko Widodo's visit to countries in South Asia ended in Bangladesh. After a meeting with Bangladeshi Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, both of them witnessed the signing of several cooperation agreements between the two countries.

In addition, President Joko Widodo also visited Rakhine State refugees, in at Cox's Bazar in Myanmar and reviewed the service activities undertaken by the Indonesian government as well as Indonesian humanitarian organizations that have been already operating there.

President Joko Widodo's visit to South Asia is very strategic and it expands Indonesia's relationship with the South Asian countries. Hopefully, this will bring about positive impact for both Indonesia and the visited countries.


aseanindiaWhile in Davos, Switzerland, the World Economic Forum-WEF was having its  annual meeting,  in Tokyo, Japan, ministers from 11 member countries of the Trans Pacific Partnership-TPP, met to continue the multilateral organization without the US.

Tuesday, January 23, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the World Economic Forum, WEF, in Davos, Switzerland, stated that the luster of globalization has now dimmed. The barrier is the protectionist attitude of some countries. Although not addressing the name, this statement is apparently aimed at the United States. Since Trump came to power, the United States has demonstrated a protective stance in trade. Among others by  abandoning the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal.

In the same forum last year, when Trump was to enter  the White House, Chinese President Xi Jin Ping had already expressed his views on free trade. Not wanting to lag behind China, this year Modi wants India to be an example of free trade by opening the door for investment.

As one of the fastest-growing countries in the BRICS group, (Brazil,  Russia, India, China, and South Africa), India feels it is lagging behind China and seeking to build partnerships with Southeast Asian countries.

Upon  returning  from Davos, in order to further strengthen cooperation with Southeast Asian countries, Modi invited 10 ASEAN countries to meet on ASEAN-India summit and to celebrate the Republic of India Day, which fell on  Friday (26 January). Despite having cultural influence in almost all ASEAN countries, and implementing  the Act East policy,  India's trade rate with ASEAN only reached 470 million US dollars in 2016-2017. That number is only one-sixth of China -ASEAN trade value.

India is trying to approach ASEAN because China has approached and been accepted in South Asia, by building infrastructure and energy in Pakistan and Sri Lanka. But some Southeast Asian countries in dispute with China, are expecting a bigger role of  India in the region.

For Indonesia, the intention of India, who does not want to lose influence in Southeast Asia and ASEAN,  is a natural thing. As a country with active  and free foreign policy, Indonesia welcomed the intention, and attended India Republic Day celebrations with a delegation led by  President Joko Widodo. But of course Indonesia does not want to wobble in other countries battle  of influence, including India and China.



On January 23rd, 2018, the Corruption Eradication Commission -KPK again made a surprise by deciding the status of a suspect to a regional head. The official is suspected of accepting bribes and gratuities related to the implementation of projects within his government. On the one hand, people see clearly how the capacity of the anti-corruption institution shows. The KPK is so smart, with the support of all parties, crack down those who abuse their authority. On the other hand, the question arises, why there are still those who commit corruption (?). In fact, the data of Ministry of Home Affairs shows that there have been hundreds of corruptions cases by regional heads charged by the KPK from 2004 to 2017. This should be enough to remind anyone not to take consequence.

Over the first few years of regional autonomy applied, the call of little kings for regional heads occurred. It was only natural remembering that their authority was powerful. The positive impact of the democratic spirit in the reformation era is aimed at accelerating development in each region. Each region is authorized to accelerate development in accordance with its potential. Unfortunately, temptations arise for individual or group interests. Unsurprisingly, the KPK's action to eradicate the abuse of authority by these little kings is greatly appreciated by the people of Indonesia.

Now, corruption eradication efforts do not encounter significant obstacles, as supported by all stakeholders in addition to the strength of the underlying legal basis. KPK seems to keep make breakthrough without fear in a bid to eradicate corruption. Now, the problem is that how the KPK takes preventive efforts, such as by maximizing the presence of internal monitoring units to be involved in the execution of each project.

In addition, it may be necessary to review the democratic system in the election of regional heads, especially in terms of huge costs that contestants and supporters must spend. Consequently, this brings about impact on corruption by some regional heads, both incumbent and newly elected ones.

Indeed, every country has its own uniqueness in democracy. So, the model of democracy in one country cannot be applied absolutely. But democracy should not be secretly-packed image of something bad. If this is the case, KPK's work will be endless, and this is not good news. Corruption will continue to recur if the root cause of the problem is not well identified. That’s why, this must be immediately resolved.


US Defense Secretary James Mattis made a working visit to Indonesia amid efforts to resolve the conflict in Asia.

During his visit in Jakarta, after received by Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, James Mattis immediately met his counterpart Defense Minister Ryamizard Riyakudu. A number of issues became the attention of both government officials. As stated by Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu, they discussed among others, the two countries cooperation, North Korea, South China Sea, and Rohingya.

Against these issues, Indonesia and the United States generally can be said to have the same view. On North Korea, for example, Indonesia also hopes that Pyongyang will stop its nuclear test. Related to Rohingya refugees, like Indonesia, the United States sees the need for handling efforts with attention to the human side.

The United States Defense Secretary also pays attention to trilateral talks between Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. James Mattis expressed the US commitment to support the three countries' defense cooperation in Southeast Asia, especially in handling the entry of ISIS into Southeast Asia. Washington's support was made on the similarity that terrorism should be prevented from spreading.

James Mattis' visit to Indonesia, in addition to being viewed from the perspective of various issues, has also become important regarding the follow-up of bilateral cooperation in the field of defense. As is known, Indonesia and the US have agreed on defense cooperation through the Join Statement in Comprehensive Defense Corporation, signed in October 2015, when President Joko Widodo visited Washington. The commitment of the cooperation was reaffirmed when President Jokowi met President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the G 20 summit in Germany last year.

During this time more than 6,000 Indonesian Military and civil servants have studied in the US. Meanwhile, at least 61 US officers have had the opportunity to attend the Indonesian Military (TNI) Staff and Command School in Indonesia.

It is within this framework that the visit of James Mattis to Jakarta this time can be seen as strategic enough to enhance mutual understanding between the two countries . Particularly in the form of defense dialogue and enhance the cooperation that is realized in concrete activities.