Jakarta Ex-Governor Ahok Standing Strong In His Christian Faith Through The Storm

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘OPEN DOORS’ CHRISTIAN WEBSITE)

EX-GOVERNOR AHOK STANDING STRONG THROUGH THE STORM

April 26, 2017 by Open Doors in Prayer updates

Basuki Cahaya Purnama “Ahok,” a Christian and ethnic Chinese, and Jakarta’s first non-Muslim governor in 50 years, lost re-election on April 19. The next morning, his blasphemy trial continued with the prosecutor demanding a sentence of 1 year imprisonment and 2 years’ probation.

What is surprising in this development is that the prosecutor did not use the original charge of blasphemy, which had resulted in mass protests against Ahok for several weeks. Instead, he is now charged for “expressing hostile feelings or hatred towards a particular group.” In this case, the particular group refers to his political opponents.

“God gives the authority and so God alone can take it back,” said Ahok to his supporters after the quick count which confirmed his loss. “No one is allowed to rule without God’s permission. I once lost in the governor’s election in 2007, but then I still became Jakarta’s governor. So, don’t be sad. God knows best.”

As much as they could have anticipated the election results in the current political climate, the Christian community could not help but feel deeply sadden and disappointed. Pray for God to continue to work good for Ahok and his future. Pray also for peace to be restored and for God’s justice to prevail in Ahok’s trial.

Father, we pray Your protection over Ahok in the wake of this political defeat as he faces a trial because of his faith in Christ. As he proclaimed, You put him in office and even now, in the midst of defeat, You still know best. We pray now for the Christians in Jakarta, that You will protect and encourage them in this disappointment. We pray for peace to be restored following the bitter election season and we pray for Ahok’s protection and for justice to be accomplished as the trial progresses. In the name of Jesus, who “works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed” (Psalm 103:6). Amen.

Jakarta Indonesia’s Muslim’s Make Tomorrows Election About Religion And Race, Not Issues

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

(CNN) Indonesia’s capital is on edge one day before a vote that has become a test of tolerance in the world’s most populous majority-Muslim nation.

The incumbent governor of Jakarta, Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, an ethnic Chinese Christian, is facing a challenge by a Muslim former government minister backed by hard-line religious groups.
“There’s been quite a lot at stake, mostly because of how the election has been framed, (not) issues about how Jakarta will be run itself but rather questions of identity politics,” Ian Wilson, research fellow at Australia’s Murdoch University Asia Research Center, told CNN.
Tensions have risen since the first round of voting on February 15, when Ahok came in first with almost 43% of the vote, just ahead of former Education and Culture Minister Anies Baswedan.
Religious groups determined to see Baswedan take the governorship have been accused of stoking religious discord in the city ahead of the second round, analysts say, a startling turn in a country with a secular constitution and a long tradition of pluralism.
“I think a lot of Chinese Jakartans are feeling anxious about what will happen regardless of the outcome,” Wilson said.

Anies Baswedan (2L) and his running mate pray during an event in Jakarta on March 4.

Mass protests against Ahok

Tensions began to build in November 2016 after Ahok made comments during a campaign speech, which were interpreted by some as an insult to the Quran and Islam.
Now Ahok is on trial for blasphemy and Islamic conservative groups are pushing hard against him. In March, during the campaign, large crowds of thousands of protestors massed in Jakarta’s streets to call for his imprisonment.
“(The vote) is being framed in these semi-apocalyptic terms — that if Baswedan loses it means this infidel, conspiratorial Chinese group will be in power and it will be a disaster,” Wilson said.
While Baswedan himself has taken a step back from the aggressive rhetoric of the first half of the campaign, analysts say, conservative Islamic groups have picked up the slack.

Jakarta's Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, also known as Ahok, inside the courtroom during his blasphemy trial on April 11.

“There was this grandma who died and she voted for Ahok and she was (reportedly) denied Muslim funeral rights,” Tobias Basuki, a researcher at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, an Indonesian think tank, told CNN.
“(Islamist groups) are using a lot of very blatant religious messages. Very blatant. There are various messages showing people … making oaths in communities saying you cannot vote for a non-Muslim and so on.”
With polls showing a tight race between the two candidates and religious tensions running high, both camps have reasons to be anxious.
Wilson said there is a possibility things may descend into violence.

Thousands of Indonesian Muslims protest against Ahok on March 31 in Jakarta.

Anies for president?

It isn’t just religious tolerance that’s at stake though.
The eyes of Indonesia’s national leaders are fixed on the vote as well, and who will be in the powerful position of Jakarta governor during the next national election in 2019.
Ahok is an ally of Indonesian President Joko Widodo, also known as Jokowi — in fact, he was his running mate during Widodo’s own successful run for the governorship in 2012.
After Widodo’s 2012 win quickly led to a successful run for the presidency in 2014, Indonesian political insiders now see the Jakarta governorship as a step to the highest office in the land.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo (R) with Anies Baswedan (L) at the presidential palace in Jakarta on October 24, 2014.

A Baswedan win will be seen as a major blow to Jokowi.
“It would be a major political win for (former 2014 presidential candidate) Prabowo Subianto, who has been very transparent in his support for Anies,” Wilson said.
Whether Baswedan runs for the presidency in 2019, or supports a second run by Prabowo, Basuki said a win by the former minister in Jakarta would embolden Islamic groups.
“If Anies (is elected), the peddling of influence by these Islamic groups will be greater, and use of religion will be much more in vogue in local elections heading towards the 2019 vote,” he said.

Jakarta’s poor turn on Ahok

But despite the high religious and racial tensions in the Jakarta governor race, they aren’t the only reason Ahok is in trouble.
Greg Fealy, an associate professor in Australian National University’s Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, told CNN in February Ahok’s blunt, combative style of governing put a lot of Jakartans off.
“He’s a very combative, outspoken, reckless kind of character who has achieved a lot for Jakarta, but he’s a character who has created a lot of antipathy toward him,” he said.

Ahok flanked by his wife Veronica (R) and son Nicholas (L) show off their first-round ballot papers in Jakarta on February 15.

Not only that, but a lot of the poor Jakartans who voted for the joint Widodo/Ahok ticket in 2012 in hopes of a new style of government have been the target of large-scale evictions under the governor’s administration.
“They have very specific material grievances against the governor, they feel there was a betrayal of a political contract … I think that magnified feelings of injustice against those neighborhoods,” Wilson said.

Jakarta Indonesia: Hardline Muslims Protest There Being A Chinese Christian Governor

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

Jakarta vote: Indonesia hardliners call for Muslim governor

  • 8 hours ago
  • From the section Asia
Islamic hardliners demonstrate against Basuki Tjahaja PurnamaImage copyright GETTY IMAGES
Image caption Hardline Muslims have been marching against Jakarta’s ethnic Chinese Christian governor for months

Tens of thousands of Indonesians have gathered in Jakarta to urge people to vote for a Muslim candidate to be the capital city’s next governor.

The incumbent, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, known as Ahok, is an ethnic Chinese Christian currently on trial after being accused of insulting Islam.

Despite the court case, Mr Purnama is still expected to win Wednesday’s vote.

The campaign against him has been led by Muslim hardliners, stoking fears of growing religious intolerance.

Crowds gathered for mass prayers around the city’s Istiqlal Mosque on Saturday, urging people to cast their ballots for Muslim leaders.

Supporters of several Islamic groups held posters with messages such as “I’d prefer if my leader is a Muslim” and “It is forbidden to pick an infidel leader”.

Hardline protesterImage copyright GETTY IMAGES
Image caption Hardliners insist that the city should be governed by a Muslim
mass prayer at Istiqlal mosqueImage copyright EPA
Image caption The event centred on the Istiqlal Mosque drew tens of thousands of people

The action follows big protests against Mr Purnama in December and a rally that turned violent in November, leaving one man dead and dozens of police and demonstrators injured.

Mr Purnama became Jakarta’s first non-Muslim governor for 50 years and the first ethnic Chinese to hold the position when he took over from Joko Widodo – now the president – in 2014.

He won popularity for his no-nonsense style, as well as his stances against corruption and in favour of public transport and greater access to healthcare and education.

But some Islamists rejected him from the outset because of both his religion and ethnicity.

His position has been undermined by the court case against him, with prosecutors arguing that he insulted Islam by misusing a Koranic verse.

Mr Purnama had said that Islamic groups using a passage of the Koran to urge people not to support him were deceiving voters.

The verse is interpreted by some as prohibiting Muslims from living under the leadership of a non-Muslim.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Mr Purnama wept as his trial opened in December

Mr Purnama insisted his comments were aimed at politicians “incorrectly” using the verse against him, not at the verse itself.

Rights groups say the authorities have set a dangerous precedent in which a noisy hardline Islamic minority can influence the legal process.

Mr Purnama is facing two prominent Muslim challengers for the Jakarta governorship.

If none of the contenders gets more than 50%, a run-off election between the two top candidates will take place in April.

Christians represent less than 10% of the country’s 250 million people, and ethnic Chinese about 1%.

In 1998, a wave of anti-Chinese sentiment led to mobs looting and burning Chinese-owned shops and houses, leaving more than 1,000 people dead.

However, Muslims in Indonesia are largely moderate and the country’s largest Islamic organisation, Nahdlatul Ulama, had advised its members not to take part in the recent anti-Ahok protests.

Jihad In Jakarta?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE JAKARTA POST NEWS)

Leader of anti-Ahok rally summoned over Dec. 2 protest

  • The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Wed, February 8, 2017 | 05:16 pm

Leader of anti-Ahok rally summoned over Dec. 2 protestThousands of people led by the National Movement to Safeguard the Indonesian Ulema Council’s Fatwa (GNPF-MUI) stage a rally against Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama in Jakarta on Nov. 4 over alleged blasphemy. (Antara/Akbar Nugroho Gumay)

The leader of a conservative Muslim group that has organized two rallies demanding the prosecution of Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama has ignored a police summons scheduled for Wednesday to probe the rally’s funding.

Police had summoned Bachtiar Nasir, who leads the National Movement to Safeguard the Indonesian Ulema Council’s Fatwa (GNPF-MUI), as a witness in their investigation of fund-raising activities ahead of a rally on Dec. 2, suspected to be connected to money-laundering.

Bachtiar’s lawyer, Kapitra Ampera, said his client was ready for the questioning but added that he had found irregularities in the summons, as it was received less than three days before the scheduled questioning.

The lawyer said that according to Article 227 of the Criminal Law Procedures Code (KUHAP), a summons has to be sent no later than three days before the questioning.

“We received the letter on Monday, Feb. 6, at 11:34 p.m. and were asked to come today,” Kapitra said at police headquarters after asking for clarification on the letter.

(Read also: Rally ends on cautious note)

The GNPF-MUI, which includes the hard-line Islam Defenders Front (FPI), organized two large rallies late last year to demand the prosecution of Ahok in a blasphemy case. The first rally, held on Nov. 4, turned violent in the evening after President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo refused to meet protesters.

Police detained 11 people in the early morning of Dec. 2, ostensibly to prevent new violence, immediately charging them with treason. Protests that day in Jakarta and other regions remained peaceful. (wit)

Australia Expresses Regret For Offending Indonesia’s Military

 

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF REUTERS NEWS AGENCY)

Australia expresses regret for offending Indonesia’s military

Australian Army soldiers assist Indonesian Army personnel during the Junior Officer Combat Instructor Training course conducted by the Australian Army’s Combat Training Centre in Tully, Australia, October 10, 2014. Australian Defence Force/Handout via REUTERS
By Colin Packham and Tom Westbrook | SYDNEY

Australia expressed regret on Thursday and promised a thorough investigation of “insulting” teaching material found at a west Australian military base that led to Indonesia suspending defense ties between the often uneasy Asia-Pacific neighbors.

Indonesia confirmed on Wednesday it had suspended military cooperation with Australia in December, a decision that was initially said to have been taken independently by the military.

However, Indonesian President Joko Widodo said on Thursday he had given his permission for the suspension of ties and that his defense minister and military chief had been asked to investigate.

Such military ties cover a range of activities from counterterrorism cooperation to border protection.

Jakarta and Canberra have had a rocky military relationship in recent years, and Australia stopped joint training exercises with Indonesia’s Kopassus special forces after accusations of abuses by the unit in East Timor in 1999, as the territory prepared for independence.

Ties were resumed when cooperation on counterterrorism became imperative after the 2002 bombing of two nightclubs on the resort island of Bali that killed 202 people, including 88 Australians.

Australian Defence Minister Marise Payne said on Thursday an investigation into the offensive materials that were found at Campbell Barracks in the west Australian city of Perth would be concluded “imminently”.

“We have indicated our regret that this occurred and that offence was taken. I think that’s appropriate when a significant counterpart raises their concerns with you,” Payne told reporters in Sydney.

Australia would present the findings of the report to Indonesia’s government and military, Payne said.

Payne refused to reveal the exact nature of the offending material, although Indonesia media have reported that a senior Indonesian military officer training in Australia took offence at a poster questioning Indonesian sovereignty over the western half of the island of Papua.

Media have also reported that the same officer also found documents that ridiculed the founding ideology of Indonesia’s National Armed Forces.

Papua, where there is a long-simmering separatist movement, is a politically sensitive issue in Indonesia.

“We of course … recognize Indonesia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and that is our firm and stated position,” Payne said.

She said the offending material had been removed and that all training documents would be “culturally appropriate”.

Indonesia most recently suspended military ties with Australia in 2013 over revelations that Australian spies had tapped the mobile telephone of then president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Indonesian and Australian officials stressed that the bilateral relationship had not stalled, unlike in 2013.

“I think our relations with Australia remain in a good condition. The problem has to be clarified first at the operational level so the situation will not heat up,” Widodo told reporters in Jakarta.

Australia needs Indonesia’s help to enforce its controversial immigration policy that includes turning back boats carrying would-be asylum seekers. Payne said there was “no indication” of any change”.

(Reporting by Colin Packham and Tom Westbrook; Additional reporting by Bernadette Christina Munthe and Kanupriya Kapoor in JAKARTA; Editing by Paul Tait)

India: Stopping Counterfeit Money Will Hurt Economy For About 3 Months But Will Help The People Of India In The Long Run

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES)

Demonetisation pangs will last for 3 months, but benefit India in long run: Jaitley

INDIA Updated: Dec 03, 2016 00:50 IST

Suveen Sinha
Suveen Sinha
Hindustan Times
Finance minister Arun Jaitley in conversation with Vikram Chandra during Hindustan Times Leadership Summit, Consulting Editor, NDTV at Taj Palace in New Delhi on Friday. (Gurinder Osan/HT Photo)
Finance minister Arun Jaitley said on Friday the recall of 500-and 1000-rupee notes will cause just three months of disruptions before yielding substantial benefits for the economy.In a year, he sees a bigger and cleaner economy with less paper currency, a wider tax base with lower rates, and more money in the banks resulting in cheaper loans. All of this will help the country’s ambition of becoming a modern and digital economy befitting its status as the world’s fastest growing major economy.

WHAT JAITLEY SAID
  • The disruption won’t last long; in the next 12 to 15 months, the impact will be beneficial
  • There will be more money in the banking system which can be used for social, infrastructure, industry, trade
  • People in queues are saying they are troubled but happy the decision was taken
  • The difference between paper currency withdrawn and the one coming into the market will be replaced by credit and debit cards, and e-wallets

“If you switch over from a particular way of life and conducting expenditure, there is disruption. But I do not see the disruption lasting long, maybe a quarter or so. But if you look at the next 12 or 15 months, the impact will be beneficial,” Jaitley said at the inaugural session of the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit in New Delhi.

The government recalled 500-and 1,000-rupee notes on November 8, culling 86% of cash in circulation to purge the economy of illicit “black money” and fake bills.

The move, said Jaitley, will prove a windfall in many ways. Banks, flush with money from new deposits, will be able to give social, infrastructure, industrial, and trade loans at lower rates. He, however, said the amount of new banknotes being released will not touch the November 8 level, and that will help the country along the path of becoming a digital economy.

Watch | We need to replace the cynicism amongst the common man: Arun Jaitley

“The volume of formal trade and business will grow in size… What was normal in India? You go and buy a property, you pay some amount in cash, some in cheque. You start a trade, wholesale or retail, there is so much in kaccha khaata and so much in pucca. Do developed economies behave like this?” he argued in defence of the so-called demonetisation.

He said the purging existing high-value notes strikes at the stock of black money.

The flow part of it will be curbed by the goods and services tax, which, by establishing a transparent and uniform system of indirect taxes across the country, will prevent the generation of black money in trade and business.

A next possible step, said Jaitley, could be to make political funding more transparent.

“The current move will create a situation where political funding will become far more transparent. At the end of the day, donors will say, ‘Where do I bring this money from? The only donation I can give is legitimate cheque donation’”.

 

 

 

West Papuans Protest Against Indonesian Rule

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

JAKARTA, Indonesia — West Papuan protesters faced off with police in the Indonesian capital in a demonstration calling for the remote region’s independence.

Organizers had promised protests in other cities and said police had denied them permission to protest in central Jakarta.

The dozens of demonstrators were blocked from marching onto a busy traffic circle in the capital on Thursday by several hundred police who fired water cannons and dragged men from the crowd into waiting police vans.

Many West Papuans see Dec. 1 as the anniversary of what should have been their independence.

The Dutch colonizers of the Indonesian archipelago held onto West Papua when Indonesia became independent after World War II. It became part of Indonesia following a U.N.-supervised referendum in 1969 criticized as undemocratic.

Labor abuses found at Indonesian palm plantations supplying global companies: Amnesty

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF REUTERS NEWS AGENCY)

Labor abuses found at Indonesian palm plantations supplying global companies: Amnesty

By Eveline Danubrata and Bernadette Christina Munthe | JAKARTA

Global consumer companies, including Unilever, Nestle, Kellogg and Procter & Gamble, have sourced palm oil from Indonesian plantations where labor abuses were uncovered, Amnesty International said on Wednesday.

Children as young as eight worked in “hazardous” conditions at palm plantations run by Singapore-based Wilmar International Ltd and its suppliers on the Indonesian islands of Kalimantan and Sumatra, Amnesty said in a report.

Amnesty, which said it interviewed 120 workers, alleges that many of them worked long hours for low pay and without adequate safety equipment. The palm oil from these plantations could be traced to nine multinational companies, it said.

“Despite promising customers that there will be no exploitation in their palm oil supply chains, big brands continue to profit from appalling abuses,” said Meghna Abraham, senior investigator at Amnesty.

The NGO said it chose Wilmar as the focus of its investigation as the company is the world’s largest processor and merchandiser of palm and lauric oils, controlling more than 43 percent of the global palm oil trade.

Other companies operating palm plantations in Indonesia include Golden Agri-Resources Ltd, Indofood Agri Resources Ltd and PT Astra Agro Lestari Tbk.

Even though Indonesia had strong labor laws under which most of the abuses can amount to criminal offences, these laws were poorly enforced by the government, Amnesty said.

Wilmar said it welcomed the NGO’s report, which helps to highlight labor issues within the broader palm oil industry, but added that finding a solution requires collaboration between governments, companies and civil society organizations. (For Wilmar’s full statement, click bit.ly/2fx0q1t)

“We acknowledge that there are ongoing labor issues in the palm oil industry, and these issues could affect any palm company operating in Indonesia,” it said.

“The focus on Wilmar … is often used to draw attention to problems in the wider palm oil industry.”

Wilmar supplies around 10 percent of the total palm oil used in Nestle’s products, the Swiss food giant said in an email. Nestle said it is working with Wilmar to improve the traceability of the commodity.

“Practices such as those identified in Amnesty International’s report have no place in our supply chain,” Nestle said. The company said it would investigate allegations related to its purchase of palm oil along with its suppliers.

Procter & Gamble also said in an email it is working with Wilmar to “ensure they can remedy any potential human rights infringements in their supply chain”.

Indonesia is the world’s biggest producer of palm oil, used in everything from snacks and soaps to cosmetics and biofuels, with the sector employing millions of workers. But plantation operators say it is difficult to have complete oversight of labor conditions.

No company would “consciously” hire underage labor as that is against the law, but some plantation workers get their children to help out, Sumarjono Saragih, an official at the Indonesian Palm Oil Association, told Reuters by telephone.

“If children want to help their parents, companies cannot forbid that.”

Agus Justianto, an official at Indonesia’s environment ministry, said that a company found guilty of labor violations could get its permit revoked, but it is “not in the environment ministry’s domain.”

Indonesia’s manpower ministry did not immediately provide comment.

U.S. snack and breakfast food company Kellogg Co said it is committed to ensuring that its palm oil is obtained from “known and certified sources that are environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable”.

If Kellogg finds or is made aware of any supply chain violations, it would discuss corrective actions with its suppliers, it said. “If the concerns are not adequately addressed, we take action to remove them from our chain.”

Unilever said while significant progress has been made to tackle environmental issues associated with palm cultivation, more needs to be done to address “these deeply concerning social issues” and promised to work with its partners.

(Reporting by Eveline Danubrata and Bernadette Christina Munthe in JAKARTA; Additional reporting by Masayuki Kitano in SINGAPORE; Editing by Tom Hogue and Kenneth Maxwell)