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19
September

Facing Peak Dry Season

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In September, Indonesia and many countries in Asia enter the peak period of the long dry season which has started since early May. Even though it has already rained in several areas, it cannot be denied that observers say that September is entering the highest phase of the dry season.

The effects of the dry season, apart from drying out water sources, disrupt food security, and also result in forest and land fires. The fires are one of the causes of increasingly hot air temperatures apart from the main El Nino effect in the Pacific Ocean.

According to the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency, when El Nino occurs, the cloud growth area shifts from Indonesian territory to the central Pacific Ocean region, causing reduced rainfall in Indonesia.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry noted that the number of hot spots in Indonesia had reached 3,788 spots as of September 5 2023 and continues to increase. Minister of Environment and Forestry, Siti Nurbaya Bakar said that this number had increased significantly up to three times compared to last year's data which reached only 979 hot spots.

Currently, there are six provinces that are prone to forest fires, and are badly affected by the haze. They are Jambi, Riau and South Sumatra, as well as West Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan and South Kalimantan in the Indonesian part of Kalimantan and several areas on the island of Java.

Meanwhile, Head of the Agency, Dwikorita Karnawati, said that Indonesia is currently facing two climate phenomena simultaneously, namely El Nino and the positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), which give rise to the potential for a drought like in 2019. The Agency predicts that the peak of the 2023 dry season in Indonesia has occurred from July to September with coverage of 582 season zones (zom) or 83 percent of Indonesia's total 699 zom.

Facing the peak of the dry season, the government and related parties have prepared anticipations, such as providing incentives to farmers who fail to harvest, maintaining food security stability, importing main staples as rice, providing education on dealing with forest and land fires to village officials and farmers as well as seriously monitoring of respiratory tract diseases. Another anticipation is the rehabilitation and maintenance of existing wells. There are arrangements for dew dams,and thirdly,there arewater drops with water tanks if the springs dry up.In addition, engineering artificial rain is also an effort to overcome drought and forest and land fires.

Another effect of the long dry season and forest and land fires is the decline in air quality in several regions of Indonesia. According to the Agency's data, the Kalimantan region, especially West Kalimantan, is the region most affected.

Meanwhile in Jakarta, the problem faced is precisely because of pollutant emissions from motorized vehicles. Regarding the El Nino phenomenon with its dry season, Regarding the El Nino phenomenon with its dry season, it's time to think about not only a policy issue, but also a matter of awareness of the importance of environmental conservation.

10
August

 

The Indonesian Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) estimates that this year's dry season will peak in August to early September. Associate Officer for Meteorology and Geophysics Observer, BMKG Tangerang Class 1 Geophysics Station, Maria Evi Trianasari said this, quoted by Antara, Tuesday (8/8).

Maria Evi Trianasari explained, the El Nino index in July 2023 reached a moderate level. Meanwhile, the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) has entered a positive index level. The El Nino phenomenon and positive IOD reinforce each other in worsening the situation. The El Nino phenomenon causes drought.

Meanwhile, the IOD phenomenon causes reduced rainfall. As a result, it is predicted that there will be a more severe drought compared to previous years. For Indonesia, this phenomenon has the potential to disrupt national food security, due to the threat of crop failure on rainfed agricultural land.

Coordinating Minister for the Economy Airlangga Hartarto said that as a measure to mitigate the impact of El Nino, the government has targeted the government's rice reserves to be above 2.2 million tonnes by the end of 2023.

However, the problem of a very dry drought is not only a matter of crop failure and food shortages. Several regions in Indonesia have started to lack clean water for drinking and daily needs. In addition, forest and land fires are also a threat.

Hundreds of hotspots have started to be seen, especially on the islands of Sumatra and Kalimantan. Forest and land fires can result not only in fire disasters, but also in smoke disasters whose impact is much wider than the fire itself. The smoke from forest fires can even be felt by neighbouring countries such as Singapore and Malaysia. This happened several years ago.

To deal with this disaster requires the vigilance of all parties. Indeed, the government stated that it had prepared anticipatory steps in dealing with the food crisis, clean water crisis and forest and land fires. However, disaster management cannot only rely on the government.

Public vigilance is no less important. The government is expected to prepare the community to face disasters caused by drought. Training on dealing with forest and land fires needs to be provided down to the village level throughout Indonesia. People are also accustomed to using clean water wisely and sparingly. Hopefully this very dry drought will pass soon.

10
August

ASEAN 56 Years

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Today 56 years ago on August 8, 1967, countries in the Southeast Asian region established a unity in a meeting in Bangkok, Thailand. 5 regional countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand signed the Bangkok Declaration towards the establishment of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). These five countries can be called the founders of ASEAN.

At the age of 56, on August 8, 2023, the number of ASEAN countries increased to 10 countries by adding Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Brunei Darussalam.

The history of ASEAN was due to the confusion of the regional countries over the global situation, which at that time, was full of conflicts between countries and affected the struggle for the influence of the ideology of the major countries. According to the 5 founding countries, if the situation was allowed to continue, it would clearly disrupt regional stability, thereby hampering economic growth and development.

Initially, ASEAN was looked down upon by the major powers and the international community. But over time, ASEAN's position has played an important role in the global situation. The fall of the Warsaw Pact with the dissolution of the Eastern bloc and the Soviet Union turned the world's political map upside down. The fears of nuclear war that were built by Western and Eastern powers are now gradually decreasing. However, what plays an important role in the current situation is natural resources, instead of an ideology.

The ASEAN region is an area that has a lot of natural resources, and potential human resources ranging from renewable energy to the agricultural and plantation economy as well as an educated population. In addition, ASEAN's strategic position is in the trajectory of world trade where the maritime trajectory has extraordinary economic potential.

This is the focus and target of the major countries. If the ASEAN countries cannot keep up with the rhythm and forget the original purpose of the founding of ASEAN, then the Southeast Asian region will suffer. With the symbol of the grains of rice on the ASEAN logo, it shows that ASEAN's strength is to maintain not only regional stability, but also cognate countries and common goals.

Hopefully on this 56th anniversary, ASEAN will be stronger even though there are internal conflicts among its members. In the case of Myanmar, the 9 member countries have remained firm and continued to uphold their initial commitment to unite, and not be divided. Moreover, the global situation, which is entering a period of global crisis as a result of the wars between Ukraine and Russia, and seeking to ask for support, can be elegantly handled by the ASEAN leaders.

10
August

 

Crude oil prices in the global market went up beyond 1 US Dollar on Friday (4/8). This increase broke the record after six consecutive weeks of rising. The price hike was affected by the decision of Saudi Arabia and Russia - the two most important producer countries - to extend the production cut in September. This caused concern of the offer deficit.

 

Futures value of Brent oil rose by 1.10 US Dollar or 1.3% and stayed at 86.24 US Dollar. While US West Texas was still at 82.82 US Dollar, rising 1.27 US Dollar or 1.6%. The two are key references for crude oil prices in the international market. This is the highest one since mid-April 2023.

 

Saudi Arabia on Thursday (3/8) voluntarily extended the production cut up to 1 million barrels per day until the end of September. Saudi Arabia may extend it further. While Russia chose a policy to reduce the crude oil export amounting to 300 barrels per day next month.


With these cuts, experts predicted there would be a deficit in the market up to 1.5 million barrels per day in September, following the deficit in July and August which was predictably around 2 million barrels on a daily basis.


In demand, global crude oil consumption can rise around 2.4 million barrels per day this year. This was stated by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak, after a panel meeting of OPEC+ ministers on Friday (4/8).

The dynamics of crude oil prices which directly affect fuel prices in the future is not easy to foresee. However, experts calculated that the crude oil price in several months will not be going down anytime soon.

 

On the other hand, China - with their struggling economy after COVID-19 pandemic - must struggle further. Beijing recently announced some stimulus policies to boost their economy. Should China's economy recover, the crude oil demand will rise and consequently price will increase.Other causes that affected the fuel price is inflation in the oil fuel processing industry. The costs of oil fuel production, starting from manpower and energy, are spiking.


The world's oil price spike possibly will nudge the fuel prices in Indonesia. It is not impossible that Indonesia’s state-owned oil company, PT Pertamina, will increase the price of some certain fuel types.

11
July

 

Indonesia is holding the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting/Post Ministerial Conference (AMM/PMC) which is held in Jakarta from 11 to 14 July 2023. Prior to the AMM/PMC meeting, a technical level meeting and a senior official level meeting (SOM) were held on Saturday (8/7).

The AMM/PMC was opened by Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Retno Marsudi in Jakarta on Tuesday (11/7).

Minister Retno Marsudi said in Jakarta last Friday (7/7) that the AMM/PMC meeting is attended by 29 countries, along with the ASEAN and European Union Secretariats. According to Minister Retno, as of Friday July 7, 1,165 delegates and more than 400 domestic and foreign journalists have registered.

In fact, the AMM meeting, which will be followed by a summit at the end of the year, will prove that Indonesia is the chairman of ASEAN 2023 which carries the theme 'ASEAN Matters; Epicentrum of Growth'. Because, at the current situation, the world recession threatens many countries and the effects of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine and post-Covid-19.

Countries in Europe which are destination countries for trade and agricultural economic production in the ASEAN region have experienced a decline in demand. Because of this, the slogan Epicentrum of Growth to advance the regional trade economy is a formidable challenge for Indonesia, not to mention the issue of security in the South China Sea which is in contact with several ASEAN member countries.

Therefore, Minister Retno Marsudi emphasized that at the AMM/MPC meeting, they would discuss concrete cooperation in the framework of strengthening food security, regional health architecture, strengthening maritime cooperation and energy transition, including the electric vehicle ecosystem.

It is planned that during the four days of the AMM/PMC, 18 meetings will be held, including plenaries and retreats, as well as several trilateral meetings involving the ASEAN Secretariat and Indonesia as Chair of ASEAN.

In addition, the presence of foreign ministers from ASEAN partner countries, as reported by Voice of Indonesia’s reporters at the venue, Monday (10/7), included foreign ministers from the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, England, Japan and South Korea as well as the Russian Foreign Minister are planning to attend, and this shows how important the position and position of ASEAN is.

Because of this, strengthening cooperation in all fields with ASEAN members and ASEAN partners is a tough task for Indonesia, which is lined up as chairman until the end of 2023, including the Myanmar issue which continues to be in the world's spotlight and an obstacle to the movement of cooperation between ASEAN members and partners, both regional and multilateral. The results of the discussion of various issues in the AMM/PMC will be presented at the 43rd Summit in September.

11
July

 

The fourth cabinet of the Prime Minister of Netherlands Mark Rutte fell on Friday (7/7). Until the new government is formed, the demissionner cabinet will only guarantee that the daily governance will run smoothly yet cannot make strategic decisions.

The fall of Mark Rutte's fourth demissionner cabinet resulted from party coalition's block in achieving agreement on immigration policy.

 
Recently, the Netherlands has been flooded by Middle Eastern refugees, most of which were from Syria. The Dutch cabinet coalition parties failed to reach an agreement on refugee families reunion. Some wanted to limit the refugee, including for their family staying outside the Netherlands. The other wanted the reunion at all costs. The situation before the Dutch government's fall suddenly worsened last week, after Mark Rutte - without any fundamental reason - suddenly threatened to disband the cabinet if his party's intention to limit the flow of refugees was not granted.

 

For Indonesia, Mark Rutte has a special relation. He spent parts of his childhood in Indonesia, when it was still called the Dutch Indies.

 

The fall of the former PM's government will not have any significant impact on its bilateral relations with Indonesia. Besides history, Indonesia and the Netherlands are sharing a tight relationship.

 

The Netherlands has the most Indonesian diaspora in Europe. The number of Indonesian diaspora in the Netherlands, both still Indonesian citizens and those who changed passports was predictably around 1.7 million people. Currently, more than 1,500 Indonesian students are studying in various higher education in the Netherlands.

 

Despite declining compared to 2021, the investment value of the Netherlands in Indonesia in 2022 was $1,22 billion. The Netherlands stays as the top investors from Europe in Indonesia.

 

The future of Dutch politics is still uncertain. Although the opposition is sensing an opportunity to hold the government, it is not easy to make a coalition. Moreover, there is yet any strong candidate to replace Mark Rutte. Besides, the centrist parties are still trying to make a strategy after the failure of preserving Mark Rutte's fourth demissionner cabinet.

06
July

 

Indonesian President Joko Widodo paid a working visit to Australia and Papua New Guinea from 3-6 July 2023. During his two-day visit to Australia, President Joko Widodo held a series of meetings. The main meeting is to attend the Annual Leaders Meeting on 4 July 2023.

In a joint statement held after the meeting, President Joko Widodo expressed his gratitude for the commitments that resulted in positive developments in relations between the two countries. Meanwhile, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese stated that Australia and Indonesia continued to choose to be closer as economic partners, as security partners, and as partners in the global transition towards net zero.

President Joko Widodo conveyed several priorities that Australia and Indonesia have to do in the future. The first priority is more substantive and strategic economic cooperation through the joint development of EV (electric vehicle) battery production. The second is the strengthening of the Indonesia - Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement. The third is related to reducing carbon emissions, and the fourth is related to the development of the Archipelago Capital City.

Prime Minister Albanese expressed his pleasure that a number of commercial deals in the healthcare, mining and digital sectors had been concluded. Prime Minister Albanese also conveyed the realization of the Indonesia-Australia Climate and Infrastructure Partnership program worth 200 million Australian dollars.

He announced that the first tranche of the funding, amounting to $50 million Australian dollar, will be used to invest in startups and small to medium enterprises focused on co-benefits from Indonesia's clean energy technology and energy transition sector.

In addition, the two leaders also welcomed Australian Export Capital's plan to establish a USD 200 million (nearly IDR 3 trillion) capital financing facility with PT Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN) to support Indonesia's energy transition.

Meanwhile regarding regional and global issues, the two Leaders also put forward concrete cooperation to make the Indo Pacific a peaceful and stable region.

The positive results illustrate the optimism of the two leaders for the stronger relations between Indonesia and Australia. The friendly and warm atmosphere shown by President Joko Widodo and Prime Minister Albanese also symbolizes the harmonious relationship and the strength of understanding between the two countries.

It is hoped that President Joko Widodo's working visit to Australia will strengthen the friendly relations between the two countries which are more solid for the progress of the two countries, the region and the world.

05
July

 

For the umpteenth time, Indonesia's historical archives have been designated as Memory of the World by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco). There are three Indonesian documentary archives that are considered to have high historical value, namely, the Speech of Indonesia's first President Soekarno, entitled 'To Build the World A new' which was delivered at the United Nations on September 30, 1960; First Meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement in Belgrade 1961; and Hikayat Aceh 17th century AD.

 

The three archives were designated as Memory of the World at the 216th UNESCO Executive Council Session in Paris, Franceon May 10-142023. The presentation was carried out by Indonesia's Permanent Representative at UNESCO, Prof. Ismunandar to the Director General of Information and Public Diplomacy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Teuku Faizasyah at the Ministry of Foreign AffairsinJakarta on Monday (3/7).

With the designation and submission of the three certificates, Indonesia now has 11 out of a total of 496 World Collective Memory documents that have been determined by UNESCO. The other eight certificates are the VOC Archives, Archives of the Asian-African Conference, Chronicle of Diponegoro, Borobudur Conservation Archives, Tsunami Archives, La Galigo, Nagarakartagama, and Panji Stories.

 

The determination of 3 Indonesian historical archives to become Memories of the World is,of course,a matter of pride for the Indonesian people, especially for the world of Indonesian diplomacy in the international arena. Sukarno's or Bung Karno's speech entitled To Build the World A New (Building the World Again) invited the world community to rebuild the world based on the Indonesian nation's philosophy, namely Pancasila. Menawhile, the First Meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement in Belgrade, Yugoslavia in 1961 was the date of the formation of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in the cold war era.

 

At that time, the developing countries agreed to show an impartial attitude between the American and Soviet blocs with their respective allies. Indonesia from the beginning has played a central role in the formation of the Movement. The principles and objectives of the NAM are a reflection of Indonesia's struggle and national goals as stated in the 1945 Constitution, particularly the spirit of independence and anti-colonialism.

 

Meanwhile, the Aceh Hikayat manuscript is a rare collection written in the 17th century AD and tells about the journey of Sultan Iskandar Muda as the most powerful and greatest sultan in the Aceh Sultanate.

Hopefully,this international recognition can inspirethe entire Indonesian nation tokeepprotectingand maintainingvaluable historical archives.

28
June

 

The world of Indonesian railways is entering a new chapter. After a long wait, the Jakarta-Bandung High-speed Train (KCJB) was finally tested last Thursday (22/06). In addition to the offered speed of 355 km per hour, the fast train also provides luxurious facilities and comfort as well as security for its passengers. 

KCJB is targeted to start operating on August 18, 2023. The Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment, Luhut B Pandjaitan in his statement, Thursday (22/6) said that later, the Jakarta-Bandung fast train would operate 68 times per day with an average of 600 passengers in one trip. KCJB, which has 4 stations: Halim Jakarta station, Karawang station, Padalarang Hub station and Tegalluar station is present as a mode of transportation that is integrated with other modes of transportation. 

This transportation project is included in the National Strategic Project (PSN) which was built through the cooperation of Indonesia and China. According to the Corporate Communication Manager of PT Kereta Api Indonesia China or KCIC, Emir Monti, this infrastructure is the first Fast Train in the Southeast Asia region with sophisticated technology. KCJB has started since January 21, 2016. Previously, the KCJB project plan was submitted by the government in July 2015. Initially, the project was targeted to be completed in 2018. However, this target was not achieved and continued to experience delays. Thus, the cost of building this infrastructure swelled by US$ 1.2 billion, or around Rp. 18.2 trillion. 

The Jakarta-Bandung High-speed Train has indeed changed the face of the Indonesian railway world. Compared to several years ago, when the train was the people's preferred mode of transportation with cheap ticket prices and far from comfortable conditions, the condition of Indonesian trains is getting better and better, especially with the Jakarta-Bandung Fast Train which is of course much more modern, faster and comfortable. The distance from Jakarta to Bandung is around 173 km, which usually takes 3-4 hours, and now, this can be shortened to just 32 minutes. Of course, this can save time and is the right choice for transportation users who need fast time to get to their destination.

 

06
May

 

Today, 3 May 2023 is celebrated as the 30th World Press Freedom Day. "Shaping a Future of Rights: Freedom of Expression as a Driver for all other human rights", is the theme set by UNESCO for this year. World Press Freedom Day is a reminder to respect the efforts of the media in guarding democracy.

The Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres in his message for this year's World Press Freedom Day said, freedom of the press is the cornerstone of democracy and justice. The press presents existing facts to form opinions and tell the truth to power. Like this year's theme, press freedom represents the lifeblood of human rights.

In Indonesia, this year press freedom is prioritized. This can be seen from the theme that was carried out at the commemoration of National Press Day last February, namely "Press Freedom, Democracy with Dignity". It is very important to continue to promote press freedom in Indonesia. Especially when you look at the results of the 2022 World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders, Indonesia is in 117th position out of 180 countries. More importantly, currently Indonesia has started to face preparations for holding the 2024 General Election.

As it became commonplace, as the general election approached, news about political party activities, presidential and vice presidential candidates as well as council member candidates became the main content of the mass media. It cannot be denied either, that several mass media in Indonesia are owned by several party figures. So that the freedom of members of the press to present the truth is highly expected because it really needs to be questioned regarding the owner's ideology.

Even though more and more information is conveyed through social media, which is sometimes believed to be true information, it cannot be denied that the mass media, especially the mainstream, are still a trusted source for the public. For the successful implementation of elections, the public must receive accurate and balanced information. Thus, when the time comes, they don't make wrong choice. Therefore, press freedom must be maintained and strengthened ahead of the 2024 elections.

It is hoped that the freedom possessed by members of the press will be used responsibly. Support for members of the press to work without threats and attacks, to stop lies and disinformation and not participate in spreading it, must be further strengthened. Thus, a dignified democracy in Indonesia can be realized. To quote Antonio Guterres, “when journalists stand up for the truth, the world supports them”.

Happy World Press Freedom Day 2023.

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