Archive for Politics

Ten days of no sex for presidential candidate Megawati

You can’t help coming across some interesting stories in Indonesian newspapers. It’s getting closer now to the presidential elections and all presidential candidates and their running mates are required to undertake a medical examination.

For female candidates which will likely just be Megawati, they must abstain from sex ten days before their examination.

From the Jakarta Post:

The requirement for a female candidate to avoid having sex is to prevent the outcome of her medical checkup from showing “biased” results, IDI chairman Fachmi Idris said without elaborating.

I wonder how having sex would influence results of a medical exam and why its ok for the male candidates not to have to abstain.

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Anti-Megawati campaign on Facebook

megawati-facebookThe legislative election is just a few days away now. Aside from all of the campaign posters around town, I haven’t noticed any significant changes here. My local mall is opening two hours later on the day of the election this Thursday.

The presidential election will be held on the 8th of July. An anti-Megawati campaign on Facebook has been launched and the made the front page of some newspapers here. The Say “NO!!!” to Megawati currently has over 78,000 supporters.

The full list of Presidential candidates includes:

- Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
- Indonesian Vice president Jusuf Kalla
- Former Indonesian president Abdurrahman Wahid
- Former Indonesian president Megawati Soekarnoputri
- Former speaker of People’s Representative Council Akbar Tandjung
- Yogyakarta Governor Hamengkubuwono
- Former Jakarta governor Sutiyoso.
- Former Military of Indonesia commander Wiranto.
- Former Armed Force Strategic and Reserve Commander(Kostrad) and founder of the Gerindra Party Prabowo Subianto
- Chairwoman of Indonesian Justice and Unity Party Meutia Hatta Swasono
- Former Indonesian State Secretary Yusril Ihza Mahendra
- Former Finance Minister Rizal Ramli
- Chairman of the Institute for the Study of Democracy and National Prosperity (Pedoman) Indonesia Fadjroel Rachman
- Chairwomen of Akar Indonesia Ratna Sarumpaet
- Former Navy Commander Admiral Slamet Soebijanto
- Dita Indah Sari Leader of the People’s Democratic Party
- Freedom Institute Executive Director Rizal Mallarangeng (withdrawn)
- People’s Consultative Assembly Chairman Hidayat Nur Wahid

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Upcoming elections – what are they all about

On April 9 there will be an election to choose the members of parliament with the presidential election on July 8th.

Indonesia only had its first direct elections for president since 2004.

Not surprisingly, most people I have spoken to in Indonesia are pretty cynical about the whole process. The current president is President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono who is a member of the Democrat Party.

One of the biggest issues is corruption in the government. Indonesia ranks 126th on the Corruption Perception Index. Ahead of Cambodia, the Philippines and Laos, but behind Nigeria and Ethiopia.

Religion will also be a key issue in the elections, with some parties pushing for Indonesia to become an Islamic state.

Indonesia has cancelled a scheduled football (soccer) match with New Zealand, because of security concerns with the election.

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The week that was

I haven’t felt well this week after coming back from Bukit Lawang, so I didn’t do as much as I would have liked on the blog.

It is getting closer to the elections here and every channel on television has non-stop reporting and debating – pity I can’t understand anything.

Here are some stories that I wanted to write about but didn’t get the chance.

Christianity Today who obviously have their own agenda, but I thought they had a good article on the spread of Shari’ah law in Indonesia, something which worries me about the country.

Legislation in Padang requires both Muslim and non-Muslim women to wear headscarves, while a law in Tangerang allows women found “loitering” on the street after 10 p.m. to be arrested for prostitution.

Five Indonesians made it onto the Forbes rich list. Brothers Michael Hartono and Budi Hartono are owners of the country’s second-largest cigarette company – Djarum. Just as most developed countries are banning cigarette smoking from all public places, it is still fine in Indonesia to chain smoke clove cigarettes on public buses.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono fell ill with a stomach upset. And presumably after he got better, he had a call from President Obama where they discussed education, health care, climate change, counterterrorism -and bird flu.

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Australia to open disaster center in Jakarta

Just as I wrote the other day that the Australian government didn’t seem to be working much with Indonesia and now I read that Australia is working to create a disaster center in Jakarta.

The prime minister told reporters that a study by Australia and Indonesia found that half the world’s megacities are in locations vulnerable to earthquakes, and issues like climate change, urbanisation and poor land use were exacerbating the impact of other natural disasters.

“Also our region is subject to intense volcanic activity and now we see the consequence increase storm activity and with greater intensity,” Rudd told reporters. “With natural disasters, none of us can predict who will be the next victim, who will be hit next and often there is so little notice when they come.”

Australia has pledged to spend $67 million on the center over a period of five years. It is good to see the two governments co-operating on new projects. The center seems like a reasonable idea, but then you start to think that the money could be better spent in other areas, and even as Rudd says it is impossible to predict where or when the next disaster is going to happen.

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Kevin Rudd’s speech at the Australia-Indonesia Conference Dinner

Politicians are often criticized for being all talk and no substance, but for me Kevin Rudd, Australia’s current Prime Minister seems to be one of the worst. I read through his speech which he gave at the Australia-Indonesia Conference Dinner which was published in the Jakarta Post.

I wonder if he was trying to be funny when he said, “in the year 2008, the President of Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and I met on seven occasions. We’ve now entered that into the Guinness Book of Records under the bilateral relations heading.”

In 1,840 words we learn that he has met the President of Indonesia a few times and the two countries have helped each other out a few times during natural disasters.

For anyone from Australia or Indonesia with an interest in either country, there was nothing in the speech that gave you anything to look forward to. Wouldn’t it be nice to see the relationship between Australia and Indonesia go a little beyond what we have now. The average Australian’s knowledge of Indonesia doesn’t go beyond Bali and perhaps a place to build a few more new mines.

In today’s Jakarta Post I also read how there is less interest in people studying about Indonesia in Australia and Curtin University have even closed down their Indonesia department.

Not only are Indonesian specialists from Australia an endangered species, but if Indonesian courses continue to be closed at universities across the country, as has happened this year at Curtin University in Perth, WA, they will become an extinct one too.

To close Indonesian courses at Australian universities based purely on financial issues is an incredibly shortsighted step to take. Pro-Vice Chancellor David Wood and Vice Chancellor Jeanette Hacket, who are responsible for these closures, have acted in complete contradiction to the stated aims of the Federal and State governments, and of the university itself.

In short, like many others, I am appalled at the treatment of staff and students in the Indonesian department at the hands of the Vice Chancellors of Curtin University.

I am also dismayed and thoroughly embarrassed at the narrow-minded decision to scrap Indonesian language courses and will be relocating to a different university next year.

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