Friday, September 30, 2005

FUEL PRICE RISE CAUSES RIOTS

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In Indonesia, fuel prices have risen by an average of 120% overnight.

1 litre unleaded petrol rises from 2,450 Rupiah (24 US cents) to 4,500 (44 US cents)

1 litre kerosene climbs from 700 Rp (7 cents) to 2,000 (20 cents)

The Government has been spending a third of its budget on fuel subsidies, due to a weak currency and high global prices

Some 15m poorer families will each get 300,000 Rp ($30) in compensation

A litre of kerosene, used by millions of Indonesians for cooking, will now cost 20 US cents - an increase of 186%. The price of petrol will also shoot up by 87.5%.

Editorial in Jakarta's Suara Karya
The fuel price hike has made the government unpopular. It seems the government has paid less attention to society's burden... This proves that the government's information management has been really terrible. The government should treat the fuel price hike as information which must be cautiously handled so that it will not cause panic amongst the public.

Editorial in Surabaya's Jawa Pos
In this case, the government's stand and statements regarding the plans to raise the fuel price have sparked social panic... Tragically, the House of Representatives itself has also created uncertainties in society.

Editorial in Jakarta's Media Indonesia
The irrationality of consumers [queuing for fuel] which verges on panic stems from uncertainties and distrust... Consumers do not trust the government, Pertamina [state-owned oil company] or the fuel stations.

Editorial in Semarang's Suara Merdeka
The utterly bleak situation ahead of the fuel price hike has made us continue to wonder: Why must this condition occur? Aren't there better ways, better management or more strategic and tactical measures amidst the endless hardships which society continues facing? Hasn't this government learned from its predecessors?

Editorial in Medan's Waspada
If we hold the general elections next month, it is clear that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono [SBY], Vice-President Jusuf Kalla and Hidayat Nurwahid [speaker of the People's Consultative Assembly] will not be elected by the people, who face a more bitter life as a result of their decision to increase the fuel price... The government may claim that it has prepared its security apparatus to counter the movement of protesters, but if the number of angry people continues to rise day by day, then SBY/Kalla will only have two choices: To hang on to power with the risk of heavy casualties or to resign as president and vice-president as a consequence of the distrust of the people.


http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/4296320.stm

Indonesia has more than doubled the average price of fuel.

The price hike, which is significantly higher than expected, is designed to cut Indonesia's massive fuel subsidy bill and help balance its budget.

Protests have taken place in at least 10 cities.

Police reportedly fired tear gas at about 200 students in Jakarta who were throwing stones and burning tyres.

The increases will have a knock-on effect on the price of everything from rice to cigarettes.

Police outside a university campus in the capital fired warning shots at protesters that appeared to be blanks, El Shinta radio reported on Friday, and hit some of the demonstrators with sticks, according to the Associated Press.

The protests followed widespread demonstrations in at least eight cities on Thursday.

A 1998 hike in fuel prices helped topple former dictator Suharto.

Story from BBC NEWS:http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/4296320.stm


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Friday, September 23, 2005

Bush, a gold swindle in Indonesia, and a 'dead' geologist who may still be alive.

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The largest gold mine in the world was supposed to be the Busang goldmine in East Kalimantan.

A firm called Barrick Gold Corp, linked to former President Bush, wanted to get control of the Busang mine.

'Former President Bush is Barrick Gold Corp.'s chief lobbyist, a stockholder in Barrick, and honorary senior adviser to Barrick's international advisory board.'

The nominal chief of Barrick Gold was Peter Munk, a Hungarian Jewish immigrant.

Also linked to Barrick gold was Suharto's daughter Siti Rukmana.

Also taking an interest in controlling the Busang mine was Freeport McMoRan, linked to Henry Kissinger.

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http://www.laksamana.net/news_read.php?gid=16

Gold Swindle Geologist Still Alive?

Posted by: Roy Tupai on 08, 23 2005 at www.laksamana.net

In 1996, a little known Canadian mining company called Bre-X pulled off one of the biggest gold swindles in history when it claimed to have discovered the mother of all motherlodes in Kalimantan.

Investors lost billions when the claim proved to be fraudulent. The geologist on the project, Michael de Guzman, allegedly killed himself by leaping from a helicopter just as the scandal unfolded. Perhaps not.

De Guzman, a Filipino who was constantly traveling, had several wives scattered across Indonesia and the Philippines. One of them, Genie, has told Singapore’s Straits Times that her husband is still alive and has twice sent money to her bank account since disappearing eight years ago.

According to Indonesian authorities, de Guzman jumped to his death from a helicopter at a height of 250 meters on March 19, 1997, while on his way to Bre-X’s celebrated Busang mine in East Kalimantan province.

On March 23, authorities announced that police searchers had pulled a decomposed and severely mangled body from a swamp in the area where de Guzman allegedly fell. Much of the body had been eaten by wild pigs; the brain, nose, internal organs and genitals were missing; the jaw was smashed and only two teeth – upper molars – remained.

Autopsies in the East Kalimantan capital of Samarinda and the Philippine capital of Manila identified the body as that of de Guzman. But many skeptics were unconvinced because of disputes over the veracity of dental and fingerprint records. The body was cremated before any DNA tests could be carried out.

On April 9, 1997, Indonesian authorities announced that de Guzman had committed suicide because he had contracted hepatitis B. The geologist’s relatives were extremely doubtful of this claim. Authorities never raised the possibility that de Guzman might have killed himself because on May 19 he had been due to meet with the top geologist of US-based gold mining firm Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold, which had discovered that Busang was a massive hoax.

The Straits Times article, published on Monday (22/8/05), quoted Genie as saying de Guzman had telephoned their Jakarta residence in April 1997, six weeks after he allegedly committed suicide.

She said their elderly maid nearly dropped the telephone when she heard the geologist's voice. "Mike said it was just after dawn where he was and that he had just woken up," she was quoted as saying.

The geologist reportedly told the maid to inform Genie to check her Citibank account, which she later discovered had received a $200,000 deposit.

Genie said she heard nothing from her husband again until this year when she received a fax from Brazil that $25,000 had been deposited into her Citibank account on February14, Valentine's Day. She said the money was drawn from a Brazilian branch of Citibank. "There's a feeling I have that he's been communicating with me. My job has been to look after the children," she said, referring to their 18-year-old daughter Paula and 8-year-old son Michael Junior.

The indigenous Dayak woman originally from Kalimantan said she believes her husband will soon emerge from hiding “in a few months” because “the longest any secret should be kept is eight years”.

Genie also told the Straits Times that her husband was summoned to the presidential palace in 1996 by then dictator Suharto and his tycoon associate Muhammad ‘Bob’ Hasan to discuss the ownership of the Busang mine. “After that, he realized he had a big problem on his hands… Essentially, they wanted to take over the mine. He had the impression they wanted it for free.”

Bre-X’s claim in February 1996 that Busang contained more than 40 million ounces of gold drove the company’s share price to more than $200 (from a mere 30 cents when the company had begun trading) and total market value to beyond $4 billion.

The announcement also sparked a shameless battle of greed within Suharto’s inner circle. Two of his children, Siti Hardiyanti ‘Tutut’ Rukmana and Sigit Harjojudanto, as well as Bob Hasan, all began squabbling over a substantial slice of the Busang action.

In February 1997, a deal was eventually reached with Freeport McMoRan (linked to Henry Kissinger) taking 15% of Busang, Bre-X keeping 45%, Hasan snaring 30% and the Indonesian government 10%. At the same time, Bre-X raised its estimate of the Busang deposit to 71 million ounces. But bringing Freeport on board meant the veteran company would soon begin its own due-diligence drilling at Busang and discover “insignificant amounts of gold”.

Within two months it was revealed that Busang’s core samples had been salted with gold and Bre-X’s shares plummeted. The company soon collapsed and was wiped off the market.
David Walsh, the chain-smoking and heavy-drinking chief executive officer of Bre-X, died in June 1998 at age 52 from a brain aneurysm in a Bahamas hospital. An interesting interview with Walsh after de Guzman's death can be read on the Internet Archive.

In March 2005, Bre-X former chief geologist John Felderhof, made his first appearance in court on charges of insider trading and misleading investors. He is accused by the Ontario Securities Commission of selling $84 million worth of Bre-X stock between in 1996 while having “negative inside information” not disclosed to investors.



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Boycott Indonesian palm oil?

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Indonesian forests are burned to create oil palm plantations.

The fires cause global warming. Largest ever single release of carbon dioxide; it's in Indonesia.

The fires destroy the habitat of the orang utan.

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http://www.thejakartapost.com/detaillatestnews.asp?fileid=20050923133153&irec=0

Palm oil demand driving orang-utans to extinction: study

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP): Demand for palm oil, which is widely used in processed foods, is driving the orang-utan towards extinction by speeding the destruction of their forest habitat, Friends of the Earth said on Friday.

The environmental campaigners said Asia's only great ape could be wiped out within 12 years unless there was urgent intervention in the palm oil trade, which it said was also linked with human rights abuses.

"Almost 90 percent of the orang-utan's habitat in Indonesia and Malaysia has now been destroyed. Some experts estimate that 5,000 orang-utan perish as a result every year," it said in a statement from London.

In a report it dubbed the "Oil for Ape Scandal", the group said wildlife centers in Indonesia were over-run with orphaned baby orang-utans that had been rescued from forests being cleared to make way for new plantations.

"Oil-palm plantations have now become the primary cause of the orang-utans' decline, wiping out its rainforest home in Borneo and Sumatra," it said.

Friends of the Earth said that palm oil is found in one in 10 products on supermarket shelves, including bread, crisps and cereals as well as lipstick and soap, and that many manufacturersdid not know where their oil was coming from.

Palm oil plantations have also been blamed for the annual haze crisis which hit Malaysia and Thailand last month, as clouds of smoke and dust from "slash and burn" operations drifted over from Indonesia's Sumatra island.

"Research by Friends of the Earth shows that the forest fires which ravaged the island of Sumatra in August, and continue to burn today, were mostly set by palm oil companies clearing land to set up their plantations," it said.

"It is estimated that one third of the orang-utan population on Borneo was killed by the forest fires of 1998," it said, referring to the disastrous haze crisis that year which crippled business and tourism in parts of Southeast Asia.




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Peaceful Islam And Nurcholish Madjid

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Reportedly, the CIA has promoted Islamic extremism and Christian extremism as a way of controlling people and promoting a fascist agenda. Many Moslem and Christian extremists appear to be tools of the security services.

In Indonesia, most Moslems are humble, compassionate and moderate. One of the most famous moderates was Nurcholish Madjid.

http://www.laksamana.net/read.php?gid=74

At Laksamana.net, on 7 September 2005, Dr Greg Barton, Associate Professor in Politics at Deakin University in Melbourne, wrote about Nurcholish Madjid and peaceful Islam.

Nurcholish Madjid (1939-2005) was trained in a madrasah. He was a typical Indonesian moderate who combined knowledge of Sufi mysticism with knowledge of the Koran (Qu'ran)

According to Barton, he believed that godlines 'comes from inner transformation not from external force or imposition of law.'

'Nurcholish rejected as profoundly mistaken the conviction of modern Islamists that Islamist parties, and the imposition of Shari'a via state legislation, hold the key to achieving societies and states that are more truly Islamic.

'Instead he argued for, and put into practice, the power of education to transform the individual, and through them the world around them...

'Central to his understanding of education... is the role of dialogue and open exchange...

'It is progressive Islamic intellectuals such as Nurcholish Madjid who have been persuading many, directly and indirectly, towards a very different, less materialistic, less political and wholly more peaceful understanding of how faith can change the world.

'The growth of such thinking is key to the health of Muslim communities everywhere, not just in Muslim-majority nations but also in London and Paris, Detroit and Leeds, Melbourne and Sydney.'


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PRO REFORMASI?

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The government of Indonesia, which is led by a former general said to be friendly with the USA, appears to be as corrupt as ever.

http://www.adnki.com/index_2Level.php?cat=Politics&loid=8.0.211237545&par=0

From The Jakarta Post:

INDONESIA: SUSILO ANTI-CORRUPTION DRIVE "DISAPPOINTING"


Jakarta, 22 Sept. (AKI/Jakarta Post) - Eleven months after becoming Indonesia's first elected president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's pledges to curb "systemic" corruption within government agencies, particularly the tax and customs services, have not being realized, according to the country's Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).

"The commission is very disappointed with the government's efforts to prevent corruption. Its efforts and its determination have yet to show progress," KPK Chairman Taufiqurrahman Ruki said.

His remarks came after a meeting with Yudhoyono held to allow the KPK put forward its views and evaluation of the government's anticorruption drive - labelled by the commission as "very slow and lacking commitment from the president's aides".

Ruki called on the government to speed up the anticorruption drive in the country's most corrupt institutions; the directorate general of taxation and the directorate general of customs and excise. Both institutions come under the supervision of the ministry of finance.

"There has been so much leakage from the tax and customs services as a result of collusion between taxpayers and officials. Our preliminary investigation shows that big fish corruptors are still sniffing at the doors of both services," he said.

A survey by watchdog organisation Transparency International Indonesia in February revealed that customs service was the country's most corrupt institution.

Indonesia is one of the world's 14 most graft-plagued nations, according to Transparency International's 2004 Corruption Perceptions Index.

The country has been relying on revenues from taxes and excise duties for the past five years to help finance government expenditure. This year's budget envisages 85 percent of revenues being contributed by taxes and excise duties. Based on the budget, the government hopes to collect 32.8 billion dollars in taxes and excise duties this year and some 39.3 billion dollars next year.

Analysts believe that the government could net more than 48.9 billion dollars in tax and excise revenue this year, by improving tax collection administration and tackling corruption.

The KPK also emphasised the need for the government to reform the public procurement system, as it found that leakage in this area often amounted to more than 30 percent of the procurement value.

"There has been no sign of seriousness from ministers, the heads of government agencies and state enterprise executives in preventing procurement leakage or securing revenue for the state," said Taufiqurrahman.

The KPK also highlighted a lack of coordination between the national police and the attorney general's office in investigating and bringing prosecutions in corruption cases. "Aside from poor coordination, the money allocated for processing corruption case in these two institutions is too low, about 245 dollars per case. President Susilo should seriously address these problems," Taufiqurrahman said.

Cabinet secretary Sudi Silalahi said Susilo acknowledged his anticorruption drive was still far from achieving its goal and promised to speed up the efforts. "The president responds positively to the KPK input and expresses his dissatisfaction over the current anticorruption efforts of his aides. The government will intensify its efforts and remain consistent to its goals," said Silalahi.
(Aki/Jakarta Post)


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