indonesia corners

indonesia corners

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Suspicious Stance over Increasing Illegal China Workers

The regional political tension in the South China Sea (SCS) is escalating following the China rejection of the whole verdict of the Permanent Tribunal Arbitration in The Hague on July 12, 2016. On top of China Government statement, all Chinese media warned in an angry tone that there could be a military escalation after the verdict that they considered as an ill-founded ruling that was naturally null and void and had ignored basic truths and trampled on international laws and norms. The media included Xinhua, the country’s official news agency, the nationalistic Global Times tabloid controlled by the Communist party and the People’s Daily, the Communist party mouthpiece newspaper.

Under such China menacing attitude, one should appreciate the warning of Prof. Yusril Izha Mahendra, ex-Minister of Justice and Human Rights and Amir Hamza, Chairman of Geo-politics Department of Renaissance Institute, on the danger of increasing China workforces, executing various big projects in Indonesia, both legally and illegally. The potential danger arises when Indonesia permitted Chinese workers to make their entries into Indonesia, in exchange for some big projects they financed, say, rapid-train Jakarta-Bandung or Steam Power Generating Center in Celukan Bawang, Buleleng, Bali.

The potential problem of a big number of Chinese workers and other civilian people entry  started to arise with the visit of the Chinese Deputy Prime Minister Liu Yandong attending the bilateral meeting held at the Campus of Indonesia University in Depok on May 27, 2015. A memorandum of an understanding was signed, where both countries agreed to exchange 10 million people in 2020 with the aim to have close cooperation in politics, economics, trading and humanism.

Rumor said that since then thousands of Chinese workers have arrived here, many of whom were in the postures of highly trained soldiers, to be employed in projects financed by Government of China. Prof. Yusril Izha Mahendra was quoted as saying that the existence of such a big number of Chinese workers will certainly cause social, politics and economic problems. Prof. Yusril was absolutely right and we must share his anxiety towards the current situation in Indonesia today.

A political expert, Amir Hamza, reminded us of the history that can repeat itself related to what was happened in Tibet early 1950s. He presented an example of hostile take-over of an independent country, such as Tibet, as done by Chinese military personnel who disguised as project workers. “Once Tibet was an independent government with its own sovereignty, but China grabbed a good opportunity taking the advantage of projects they constructed at various parts of the country to carry out their hidden agenda. One day the highly trained Chinese soldiers who disguised as workers launched a surprise military attack and colonized the country. Even Tibetan leader, Dalai Lama, had to become a refugee and needed to find out political protection in other countries,” told he.

Experts with keen eyes pointed out that, if millions of Chinese workers are equipped with firearms, Indonesia can be wiped out within a few days. Even thousands of agents completed with high explosive bombs and heavy arms are enough to topple down Indonesian independence.

The danger may be imminent and we cannot just ignore it. We used to think conventionally that the danger might happen only when the Army’s high officials launch coup d’état or if foreign countries’ soldiers equipped with heavy arms inundate our country. But we never imagine that the creeping foreign coup d’état can take place silently.

Though the government has announced that the issue was just a rumor, one thing is clear: thousands or could be millions of Chinese workers, hopefully, they are not disguised highly trained soldiers, have arrived here, legally or illegally. Don’t forget those silent activities towards the revival of Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) are rising before our very eyes who most people are unbelievably laughing on it.

Majority of people believe that communism was already dead and fearing about its revival is just like seeing a ghost in the midday. Notwithstanding, what has taken place in Tibet might happen here in Indonesia under a similar scenario. People’s anxiety should also be the government’s anxiety. Therefore, we need to raise our voice as loud as we can, before this theory of silent hostile take-over will turn out into a nightmare.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Could Beijing Prove Their Historical Exclusive Exercise Control Over SCS?

The long-awaited international tribunal verdict declaring that Chinese Nine-Dash Line had no legal basis came with no surprise. The July 12, 2016 verdict was just a simple ‘translation’ of what was written in UNCLOS 1982. What was new was its declaration on the fact that there was no evidence that China had historically exercised exclusive control over SCS

It was no surprise either that China rejected the whole verdict and declared it as null and void. They claimed that the Nine-Dash Line was nothing to do with maritime delimitation but the territorial sovereignty issue. The court has, therefore, no authority to put a hand on SCS dispute. They considered that the issue should be resolved among the conflicting nations and thus will handle it and do business as usual.

Already United States, Japan, and Australia openly demanded China to observe the Tribunal Verdict and European Union (EU) plan to do the same soon. However, no indication that ASEAN having direct interest on the SCS will follow suit, which is very gloomy, and not even a single word of sympathy uttered towards their dear college Philippine who won the case. Furiously China warned any country who criticized Chinese challenging attitude for not turning the SCS into a war arena.

Just a few days after the verdict, China announced they were planning to close off a part of the South China Sea for military exercises for a couple days. Obviously, China can do what they want to. But instead of showing forces at least China should clarify to the international community who waited for China to challenge the Tribunal Verdict that they have indeed very strong evidence on historical exercise exclusive control over SCS such as the details proves on when, where, what and which armada that had ruled the SCS waves.

The history, however, recorded only three important Chinese maritime military expeditions. The first and second expeditions were to the North towards Japan which both failed because of naval disaster as the whole armadas were wiped out by ‘kamikaze’ typhoon (1274 and 1281 AD). The third expedition was to the South purposely to invade Java in 1292 AD. The expedition was doomed to failure as the Javanese exercised their tactical trick of burning nearly the whole armadas behind the Chinese Army who had landed and trapped at the middle of unfamiliar rain forest which then became the capital of Majapahit, one of the biggest Indonesia ancient empires.

As far as Natuna EEZ concern, the Tribunal Verdict doesn't have much effect on Indonesia determination to exercise its control over Natuna EEZ. Obviously it strengthens Indonesia EEZ status, however, with or without the verdict, Indonesia position is already firmed that there never exists a maritime overlapping with China in Natuna EEZ. And if they think otherwise, it is not Indonesian concerned at all.

For Indonesia having a good relationship with China is strategically important both economically and politically. However, none of Indonesia people ever thinks that even a bit of Indonesian territorial, as well as its EEZ, is for sale. Indonesia is a peaceful country and doesn’t have any appetite to expand its territory and consider its neighboring countries to have the same attitude. Notwithstanding, Indonesia should now be more prudent towards certain campaigns such as the mystification of a certain legendary foreign maritime figures, the proposal to jointly building the 21th-century maritime silk road, the increasing number of illegal foreign work-forces in various big projects. Last but not least, the sudden movement towards the revival of Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) whatever weak it is, such as the circulation of their logo and banners, the demand for state apology towards PKI, etc.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Vaccine Forgery: the New Extraordinary Crime

A big shocking crime spread out throughout the country scaring many citizens mainly parents who have babies and young children. But this time the extraordinary crime doesn’t come from terrorism or narcotic drugs but vaccine forgery. Nobody expects that there can be some human have the heart to fabricate vaccine forgery. The stake is horrifying as it affects the fate of thousands of babies and children and the future generation as a whole. And at everybody surprise, this horrible crime has lasted for more than a decade.

The crime broke out to the grand public when on June 22, 2016 night, police raided a house in Kemang Pratama Regency Real Estate, Bekasi. The homeowner was a married couple arrested under the accusation of vaccine forgery, which they carried out in the house. The couple, H. Taufiqurahman and R. Agustina, had just arrived at home after conducting fasting night prayer (tarawih) in the compound mosque. Investigators found thousands of bottles of vaccine that have been packed in boxes ready for distribution stored in the prayer room and bedroom.

Police have seized a total of 15 suspects of vaccine forgery among other manufacturers, owners of pharmacies, drug stores, distributors, couriers and label printer at several locations, among others Bekasi, East Jakarta, Tangerang, Subang, and Semarang. Police also examine 18 witnesses from hospitals, pharmacies, and drugstores. As a result, it was revealed four hospitals and two pharmacies and a drug store in Jakarta involved in the circulation of fake vaccines.

The perpetrators told the police that they used tetanus fluid mixed with intravenous fluid as the main raw materials of their fake vaccine. Both raw materials were put into bottles with false labels. The sad story continues as the vaccine is not produced in a hygienic laboratory but in a warehouse.

The main question is why the fake vaccine can be distributed without being detected for quite a long time? What the Health Ministry and Drugs and Food Examining Body (BPOM) did for so long time? Those institutions and the government as a whole were accused to be negligent in taking care of public health. Head of BPOM seemed not to take full responsibility on what had happened arguing that their authority so far was limited and wanted it to be widely extended to be able to cope with such crime.

The past experience indicated that even the law enforcers and could be the whole society had looked on the vaccine forgery crime very lightly. Several years ago, one of the perpetrators who was taken into the prison had been sentenced for only one year. And surprisingly there was no reaction from the people against such light verdict for so extraordinary crime.

Numerous mothers were horrified and anxious that their babies and children who had been vaccinated were infused with a fake vaccine and demanded re-vaccination. They have every right to demand such requirement and the government should be positively responsive. Having informed such a horrible crime, President Jokowi outraged and declared that the vaccine forgery was an extraordinary crime. He asked the law enforcer to impose maximum punishment to perpetrators. When asked about the death penalty, Health Minister agreed to implement such a major sentence and their properties to be confiscated. For deterrence, it is quite appropriate if the government implemented sterner punishment to protect the public from such abominable wrongdoing.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Seize China Fishing Boat in Natuna EEZ, No Compromise About It

Indonesia has long settled the boundary around Natuna EEZ in accordance with UNCLOS with its neighboring countries. The boundary is now there firmly set up and recognized internationally except China. Indonesia regards China’s unilateral claim on the part of Natuna EEZ as their fishing ground is baseless. For Indonesia, holding negotiation with any country who tries to challenge its EEZ  is useless.

China has a dual system in running their country. In dealing with government affairs, it's Communist Party who takes the charge while in business the party allows the government to adopt liberalism. The Communist Party knows that their Nine Dash-lines product will confront the ASEAN countries' interest in South China Sea (SCS) while at the same time are willing to keep the business relationship with ASEAN countries intact. 

China doesn’t seem confident in what they do in Natuna water. They are always escorting their fishing boats with their coastguards, the funniest thing that a country has ever done. This is exactly what happened related to incidents taking in Natuna EEZ. The last incident occurred on June 18, 2016, when the Navy's KRI Imam Bonjol 383 chased twelve Chinese fishing vessels a firing towards one of them (Yueyandong Yu 19038) after giving several warnings in concordance with the standard procedure. The warship commander stood firm and simply ignored the Chinese coastguards that tried to interfere with the vessel seizing.

The maneuver of so many China fishing boats could be suspected to test the water rather than solely catching the fish. Having faced with such a situation, Indonesia must show their stern position to the world that Indonesia would never back off no matter the provocation comes from. For Indonesia, the integrity of its EEZ is a matter of principle and will defend it at all cost.

Indonesia should be very cautious towards the sincerity of China's statement on their recognition on the Natuna Islands as an integral part of Indonesia territory. It is now clear that China recognizes only the islands but not their surrounding water. The issue becomes more dangerous as China had issued a position paper in December 2014, that the dispute in SCS was basically a matter of sovereignty, not exploitation rights. Does China have a hidden agenda that sometime in the future they will claim the Dash-lines crossing Natuna EEZ as the delimitation of their sovereignty?

Being aware of China aggressiveness in imposing its claim, Indonesia could no longer maintain its neutral position. Indonesia should not behave like an ostrich and being selfish ignoring their fellows ASEAN desperately confronting head-to-head with China in SCS. ASEAN should stand united against China and as the biggest nation among the community, Indonesia should stand in front. 

One example of the embarrassing diplomatic move was what happened in ASEAN foreign ministers meeting in Kunming, China, June 14, 2016. It was sad to see that ASEAN was broken apart letting China take the leading role pressuring ASEAN countries to adopt Beijing’s stance in SCS. China has been keeping eyes on the gas-rich area in SCS and possibly in Natuna water as well. Their claim on the right to exploit marine resources in Natuna sea could be extended to the right to exploit continental shelf beneath. This suspicion is logic if we look to what they did to build an oil platform in Vietnam offshore in 2014 which they claimed as theirs.

China claimed that the Nine Dash-Lines was marine empire boundary established in the era of the Ming Dynasty around 12th century. Historically, it is doubted that China ever ruled the waves imposing their power even on SCS. China was never becoming a maritime country and even if they were so, it should occur in a very short period. Indonesia, on the other hand, was a maritime nation for a long time. At the era of Sriwijaya in the 8th century and Majapahit in the 14th century, the Royal Navy conquered what is now known as Indonesian archipelago, Malaysia included,  Gajah Mada, one of the great Majapahit warlords,  sent big expeditions far west to Madagascar  (the island bears his name) and some in smaller groups had sailed up north as far Taiwan and Japan. The people in Sulawesi and the eastern part of Indonesia had traditionally sailed off far to the east across the Pacific Ocean reaching as far as New Zealand in the south, Hawaii and Eastern Islands in the remote east, the vast area that was known as the world of Tagaroa, the name of their common marine god. 

The wooden boat generation, known as Phinisi, which was used by Indonesian ancestors still survive until today going around across the archipelago. Several expeditions have been done using the replica of the ancient wooden boats heading to Madagascar and just recently to Japan proving that such journeys were not pure historical tales. Indonesia has more justification than what China did in claiming its maritime empire. Indonesia could include a much wider area by drawing Nine Thousand Dash-Lines covering those historical maritime areas, SCS included. However, Indonesia was not that crazy to seriously pose such a notorious claim.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Do Government Really Need Asking Apology to G30S Event?

For more than 30 years subsequent to 1965 G30S abortive coup, the government had discriminated PKI members and their descendants from others. All ex-PKI members had their identity cards labeled with ‘ET’ (ex-political prisoners) code which made them almost impossible to get a formal job or enroll in higher education. Furthermore, as every citizen should get a ‘G30S free’ record from the police office, PKI descendants face similar obstacles. Worst come worst, most people still stigmatized them as reprobates and just about segregated them from the rest of society.   

Nobody, however, blamed such a harsh policy. How could it be?  People at that time were extremely traumatic about what PKI did beforehand. Since 1960 PKI raised political tension by provoking their adversaries using slogans ‘seven city-devils’ and ‘seven village-devils’. Almost every day they provoked and created conflicting incidents and polarity among citizens. And it reached a climax when they murdered top-level generals at the night of 30 September 1965 using Tjakrabirawa hands.

And all the sudden the hell broke loose. By then PKI movement was totally losing its morality ground. People saw that it was PKI who the real monster and was eligible to be scrapped from the earth. People were still traumatic from PKI brutality in 1948 where PKI slaughtered many of its adversaries. People ran amok and for many, it was a matter of to be or not to be. The bloodshed was spread out but now the victims were PKI members. The anger towards PKI deed was so widespread that eventually, the government banned PKI followed by MPR’s decree banning the communist ideology throughout the country for good.  

Now 50 years later, there are always people who take lightly PKI latent danger. There are even some who are still doubtful about the role of PKI behind the incident and allege the movement was TNI internal conflict. There is a growing demand especially from PKI descendants for justice and the government’s apology for ‘1965 genocide’ against PKI members. The movement was supported and facilitated by the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) demanding for national reconciliation. One of the proponents was Nursyahbani Katjasungkana, a noted lawyer, who went further by submitting the issue to International Tribunal Court in Den Haag last year in order to attract international attention.

Lt. Gen. (ret.) Agus Widjojo Sutoyo, on the other side, had an idealistic move by broadening the scope establishing the so-called Brotherhood Forum for Nation Descendant Generation in 2003 aimed to reconcile both opposite sides who felt victims of either in G30S, DII / TII or PRRI rebellions. However, when he organized a symposium a few months ago, most attendants were PKI descendants and sympathizers. Ironically, this even caused him being accused as PKI proponent albeit his father General Sutoyo was one of PKI victims fiercely dumped into the crocodile pit.

Having done that, instead of gaining sympathy from the grand public, the reaction towards the movement of PKI descendants were furious. They made the sleeping hard-liner factions mainly from Islamic factions wide awake.

Here are a few of the examples:

At Islamic Student Association of Indonesia (PII) Grand Reunion in Denpasar, last year, Director of CICS, Arukat DJ stated that PKI latent danger has bounced back metamorphosing anywhere. The new shape of the communist organization has undergone many changes. They started to openly voice their interests, not in a humble gathering but holding instead meetings in luxurious hotels. Historically, PKI revolts in 1948 and 1965 caused a lot of casualties and, therefore, any demand asking for the government’s apology must be rejected. People in East Java will be the first to oppose it, he concluded.  

The Front of Islamic People (FUI) released their harsh reaction voicing their seven demands, among others:

  • PKI movements and casualties resulted from them must be regarded not only starting from 1965 but also from 1946.
  • Defense Minister should introduce Ideology Resilience as a curriculum, particularly putting stress on the danger of communist ideology.
  • Involve Islamic scholars and students of Islamic Dormitory School for State Defense Program.
  • End the discourse of government apology to PKI.
  • Halt the search for mass graves and declare PKI as the perpetrator of crimes against humanity.
  • The government should instruct TVRI to re-broadcast the G30S/PKI movement movie annually as before.

Indonesia University historian, Abdurakhman, reminds those historical events are part of the learning process and the G30S/PKI tragedy was no exception. The important thing is not relating to the commemoration of the event but on how the learning process can be drawn from it. People should comprehend the values ​​of Pancasila not just merely knowing them.

Meanwhile Minister of Defense Ryamizard Ryacudu strongly reminds that PKI has a harmful insidious ideology and its school of thoughts and associated symbols must be eradicated. The history demonstrates that the existence of PKI always caused political upheaval and bloodshed spread everywhere. No PKI resurgence could be tolerated and for good.

Lesson learned. The G30S tragedy and the PKI fate should be closed in the sense that it becomes a historical part of the nation building. The reconciliation should be considered as being done. Nobody now discriminates PKI members or their descendants, no further card identity labeling and no further free-G30S record needed. Everybody should understand the universal order of cause and effect. The victims were not only from PKI sides but also from its adversaries. To demand the government’s apology will only create a political uproar. Socially, but not historically, everybody should forget tragedies that now become the past and look forward to a better future.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

China Never Recognizes Indonesian EEZ in Natuna Sea

On Monday, March 21, 2016, the Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Retno Marsudi, called the Charge d'Affaires of Chinese Embassy, Sun Wei Dei, protesting him for China aggressive violation on Indonesian right over their Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) around Natuna islands.  She put stress, in addition, that Indonesia is not among the claimant countries over the South  China Sea (SCS) so it is inappropriate for China to launch such aggressive action.

The incident which took place on Saturday, March 19, 2016 happened when Kway Fey 10078, Chinese fishing ship, ran around and collided in purpose the Indonesian coast guard KP Hiu 11 that pursued itThree Indonesian officials jumped and took over the Chinese boat transferring the Chinese crew into KP Hiu and guarded Kway Fey towards Natuna nearest base. On the way back just about entering into Indonesian territorial sea, a Chinese coast guard ship that silently pursued them unexpectedly collided and immobilized Kway Fey. Anticipating an aggravated situation, the three Indonesian officials jumped back to KP Hiu abandoning Kway Fey which was then tugged away by Chinese coast guard ship to their nearest base in SCS. KP Hiu 11, however, kept arresting Chinese crew and brought them to Tiga Natuna island base waiting for a legal process.

The incident showed that China never recognizes Indonesian EEZ in the Natuna Sea. Chinese Charge d'Affaires clearly and openly stated that the fishing boat was operating in Chinese traditional fishing ground, not in Indonesia water. It is now clear for Indonesia that the issue is not merely on illegal fishing but far more seriously than that i.e. a maritime boundary dispute. 

he lesson never learned. Indonesia is always naive when facing a dispute such as in continental shelf or EEZ boundaries issue. Indonesia had a bad experience with Malaysia in Sipadan dispute because of its naivety. Now, when we have a maritime incident with China in Natuna Sea EEZ, again we cannot see what the bottom line is. Apart from several Indonesian ministerial protests put forward to the Chinese Embassy, the Indonesian Foreign Minister seemed satisfying herself by stating the China recognition over Indonesian sovereignty on the Natuna Islands and the right over their sea water. The minister failed, however, to notice that China only stated their recognition on Natuna sea water and never mentioned about Indonesian EEZ. 

If we look at the SCS map, it is obvious that China never challenges and claims Indonesia sovereignty upon the Natuna Islands. The Chinese nine-dash lines were clearly drawn crossing towards inside of our EEZ/Continental Shelf in the up north of Natuna Islands.  Indonesia gains nothing on China recognition on Indonesian sovereignty over Natuna islands as the Chinese nine-dash line already show it.  China indeed recognizes the Natuna island as Indonesian territory and its sea water but it doesn’t mean that it recognizes the whole Natuna EEZ area. There is an obvious overlap between Chinese dash lines and our EEZ in the up north (see the strip lines on the map). Behaving like an ostrich, Indonesia pretends as though Chinese nine-dash lines will never pose any threat to Indonesia. As a non-claimant country, Indonesia believes that the Chinese side will do similarly. 

Now it is time for Indonesia to explicitly refuse  recognizing China nine-dash lines that cross the Indonesian EEZ/Continental Shelf or elsewhere they are very remote from China mainland giving almost no room for their adversary countries to have their own EEZ. From the beginning Indonesia should judge this as Chinese injustice arrogance towards the international community especially its SCS neighboring countries, ignoring the basic principles of UNCLOS 1982. 

Indonesia should immediately withdraw its naïve role as a mediator, behaving like a good kid in the block dreaming that Beijing will be sincere towards Jakarta. China may be stunned or even mocked about Indonesian naivety as being itself a target but behaves as though nothing harmful will happen to Indonesia.  Sooner or later  Beijing will show its true determinism in imposing the whole nine-dash lines into effect including the section that crossing Indonesian EEZ/Continental Shelf. 

And the time now comes when Natuna incident emerged to the surface. China openly claimed that its fishing boat was operating in its traditional fishing ground. This is nothing but China open declaration that  Indonesian EEZ around the Natuna Islands simply doesn’t exist. It claims that what Indonesia considers as its EEZ  in Natuna sea covers what China considers as its traditional fishing ground in which the Chinese dash lines is the boundary.

Indonesia should be strong in maintaining the integrity of its EEZ as well as its Continental Shelf. Beneath Natuna water where Indonesian EEZ is located, there is abundantly oil and gas accumulations. For many decades Indonesia has developed most of that hydrocarbon fields but no single claim was heard from China on those resources. If China doesn’t recognize Indonesian EEZ around Natuna sea then sometime in the future when it feels strong enough with its military base in SCS it may also challenge the Indonesian Continental Shelf in the very same area.

Indonesian Foreign Affair Minister should be aware that the bottom line of the problem is not China recognition on Indonesian right over Natuna sea water but the explicit recognition of Indonesian EEZ and Continental Shelf both de facto and de jure. Observing China aggressiveness in imposing its nine-dash lines into effect, it is no doubt that the only language it speaks and understands to resolve the SCS dispute is power.

Indonesia is not alone in facing head to head against China.  If Indonesia likes to maintain its right in Natuna EEZ, there is no choice but to speak on the same language as China does. Indonesia should prioritize to strengthen its fleet in Natuna islands by increasing the number and capacity of coast guard ships as well as Navy warships. A strategic naval base should be built in the Natuna Islands not only to chase and intercept the illegal fishing boats but also to confront the danger from the north which now becomes real.