“Anti-porn” bill could threaten Indonesian women

“Anti-porn” bill could threaten Indonesian women

by Soe Tjen Marching
25 November 2008

Jakarta – Two weeks ago, Indonesia’s parliament passed an “anti-porn”
bill, which bans anyone from wearing clothes or promoting material
that could incite “sexual desire”.

Although regulations regarding pornography are important, there is
some concern that there will be other implications, for instance for
women’s rights, even down to what is permissible to wear in public. In
addition, the law also criminalises homosexual activities which
previously were not illegal in Indonesia.

The head of the special committee that drafted the bill, Balkan
Kaplale, insists that it will protect Indonesians’ morality, and guard
women and children against sexual exploitation.

But by putting the blame on the “cause” of sexual arousal, this law
victimises women rather than protects them, allowing perpetrators to
argue, for example, that the victim provoked incidents of rape or
sexual harassment.

In Indonesia, a passed bill becomes law after it is signed by the
president or 30 days after it is ratified by Parliament.

However, only three days after the law was ratified, three exotic
dancers in Mangga Besar, West Jakarta were arrested, while the
managers and owner of the club were left alone.

In fact, the police detained these women based on a provision from a
previous draft of this bill.

Unfortunately, this victimisation and negative stereotyping of women
in relation to sexuality is not new in Indonesia.

Under former president Soeharto’s “New Order” government, which was
dominated by the military and characterised by a weakened civil
society, emphasis was put on the purity of women, stressing the
importance of their roles as loyal wives and good mothers.

After Soeharto’s resignation in 1998, however, Indonesians took
advantage of their newfound liberties to express their opinions and
criticise authority.

Several female Indonesian authors, including Ayu Utami, Dewi Lestari,
Clara Ng, Djenar Maesa Ayu and Herlinatiens, gained popularity,
writing new roles for women, particularly when it comes to sexuality.
Similarly, Indonesian film directors, such as Mira Lesmana, Nia
Dinata, and Sekar Ayu Asmara, have become widely known in the
Indonesian film industry for portraying multi-faceted, complex
Indonesian women.

In their works, many of them expressed criticism against sexual
restrictions placed on women in Indonesia. If the anti-porn bill is
ratified, the works of these women may be affected, since the new law
could label their books pornographic.

Since early 2006, several women’s groups — Komnas Perempuan (Forum on
Women), Kapal Perempuan (Women’s Boat) and Aliansi Mawar Putih (White
Rose Alliance) — have protested against the bill, which has been
pending for several years. On 22 April 2006, thousands of artists,
activists, students and civilians gathered at Monas Monument in
Jakarta carrying giant posters which read: “Indonesia is not America,
but it is not Saudi Arabia either.

We reject the anti-porn bill.” And “We reject pornography, but we
reject the anti-porn bill.”

More recently, Ayu Utami wrote a play, Sidang Susila (Susila’s Trial),
which demonstrates how the bill could violate women’s rights.

A week after the bill was passed in parliament, a well-known actor,
Butet Kartaredjasa, performed the work in Sidang Susila Teater Gandrik
in Jakarta to protest the new law.

Despite the prevailing impression that this bill is widely supported
by all Muslims, Islamic organisations like the Liberal Islam Network
(JIL) in Jakarta, the Institute for Islamic and Social Studies (LKIS)
in Yogyakarta and the Institute for Religion and Social Studies (LKAS)
in Surabaya have voiced their strong opposition to the bill.

They claim that the bill will limit freedom of expression in art,
including film and literature, and that Islam has been inaccurately
used by certain groups to justify the ratification of the bill. These
groups have created blogs highlighting articles criticising the bill
and organised demonstrations and press conferences.

Non-Muslim minority groups, especially in West Papua, Bali, East Nusa
Tenggara and North Sumatra, have also fiercely opposed this law
because they claim that their local customs and traditions will be
threatened by it. In West Papua, for instance, men and women go
bare-breasted.

In Bali, nude statues proliferate and the Balinese people are also
worried that the new law will negatively affect their tourism
industry, as many foreigners may no longer be able to wear bathing
suits, sundresses or shorts at the beaches.

Recently, governmental officials from these regions have gone so far
as to threaten to split from the Republic of Indonesia in protest.

If the president signs the bill into law, the government may gain more
popularity amongst the conservatives. However, it will simultaneously
offend minority religious groups, as well as women, splitting its
support base and potentially threatening the unity of the nation.

To achieve common ground between different groups, the law must be
completely revised. The term “pornography” must be made more specific
and implicitly or explicitly encourage respect for women’s bodies.

A national dialogue with minority groups — as well as feminists — to
define exactly what pornography is will definitely help. The issue of
subordination of women in pornography must be the bill’s primary focus.

###

* Soe Tjen Marching is a researcher and tutor at the School of
Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London, and a
composer of avant-garde music. This article was written for the Common
Ground News Service (CGNews) and can be accessed at
http://www.commongroundnew s.org.

Source: Common Ground News Service (CGNews), 25 November 2008,
http://www.commongroundnew s.org
Copyright permission is granted for publication.

http://www.commongr oundnews. org/article. php?id=24428& lan=en&sid= 1&sp=0&isNew= 1

Ten reasons to visit Indonesia

Ten reasons to visit Indonesia

Paul Smith suggests ten reasons, in no particular order, to consider a trip to Indonesia, one of the lesser visited destinations in Asia.

1. TANAH LOT, BALI

About 30km to the west of Bali’s capital Denpasar, Tanah Lot is a special place where Hindu temples sit on outcrops of rock along the volcanic coastline.
The black sand, craggy rocks and white spray from the pounding sea look strangely like Auckland’s west coast beaches but the temples, thought to date from the 15th century, add a mystic feel especially at sunset.
Eating outside dinner at the Melasti Restaurant as the sun goes down is a wonderful experience.
2. CORAL REEF, BUNAKEN
Anyone who snorkels or scuba-dives will enjoy the wonderful coral reef at Bunaken in the province of North Sulawesi.
Boats go out from the mainland each morning for the reef, set just off the palm tree-lined shore of the island.
Hundreds of varieties of fish and marine life can easily be seen in the warm, clear water.
Lunch is available on the island at a basic, sand-floored restaurant.
3. THE FOOD
Meals often start with an excellent soup, often a salty, vegetable broth but sometimes in a more spicy, Thai-style. Main dishes include barbecued fish – skewered and cooked over hot coals with chilli, satay chicken, or beef cooked in a vegetable stock and coconut milk. Green beans cooked in chilli and garlic is a mainstay vegetable dish.
There is a link to Thai food but less in the way of curry as meat is often prepared with an almost dry sauce. You’ll probably need to like chillies because there is some heat in most dishes, though it is not usually overpowering.Dessert leans towards the super-sweet.
4. THE COFFEE
Although the dreaded Nescafe rears its ugly head from time to time, the standard of coffee is usually excellent.
Often made in the filter-style favoured in the US, rather than the espresso-base of New Zealand and Australia, the coffee is usually very smooth and gently invigorating rather than a morning energy bolt.
Coffee beans can be bought direct from plantations in places including Bali for as little as about $3. (Or you can always get some prized luwak coffee beans, which cost about US$55 having been eaten by civet cats and passed through them before being collected.)
5. THE WEATHER
As long as you like it hot and humid, Indonesia’s climate is for you.
Running roughly 5000km along the equator, the country is very warm all year round. Jakarta’s temperatures range from around 23C at night to 31C in the day with a wet season from November to March.
6. SHOPPING IN JAKARTA
Whether you want Western designer goods at the plush Grand Indonesia mall in the city centre, or one of the more traditional mall-cum-markets dotted around the city, shoppers should be happy.
Obvious targets for the credit card are Indonesian-made batik clothing and textiles, while you might just be able to find a new mobile phone at malls which have an entire floor of cellphone stalls one after the other.
Some of the main shopping centres in the city are: Elite Plaza Indonesia, Plaza EX and the Plaza Semanggi in central Jakarta, Taman Anggrek Mall in the west, Kelapa Gading Mall in the east, WTC Mangga Dua in the north, Plaza Senayan and Pondok Indah Mall in the south.
If there is a price displayed it’s probably fixed, but otherwise bargaining is expected.
7. TEMPLE HOPPING IN YOGYAKARTA
Yogyakarta in central Java is one of the historical and religious centres of Indonesia.
The Prambanan and Borobudur temples just outside the city are both Unesco World Heritage sites. The thousands of pieces of volcanic rock they are built from make them an arresting sight.
The Buddhist Borobudur temple is a national icon covering a surface area of 2500 square metres. It was built in the 8th and 9th centuries and restored with Unesco’s help in the 1970s.
An earthquake in 2006 partially destroyed the Hindu Prambanan temple and set back the restoration by several years, but work continues and the site is very much visitable. (A viewing platform at the site collapsed a year later with a tour party of Russians on it, initially sparking fears of another earthquake before it was realised 90 people had been on a structure built for a maximum of 30.)
8. MANADO BISCUIT FACTORY
Almost too surreal for words, the biscuit factory attraction in Manado, North Sulawesi – bizarrely housed in a place called the Merciful Building – has to be checked out.
The crowd of workers who welcome you with big smiles, megaphones and shirts proclaiming “the group the never the sleeps” (I think this translates as “we work 24/7”) are just so Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
They take you down the four floors of the factory (or at least a simulation of what is presumably a real factory somewhere else), explaining how all the biscuits and confectionery are made.
It’s actually quite interesting, and the produce is very good. Funnily enough, you end up at the bottom in the shop where you can then buy to your heart’s content. Which, as the prices are cheap and the taste good, is no bad idea.
9. THE PEOPLE
You can expect a warm welcome wherever you go in Indonesia.
Though the hawkers at tourist sites can become annoying, elsewhere you are likely to be greeted with smiles and genuine friendship.
The governor of the North Sulawesi region even calls his region “The Land of Smiling People” with some justification.
10. SECURITY?
This is the great unknown of Indonesian travel. Following the Bali bombings of 2002 and 2005 many tourists are understandably wary of visiting.
At the time of writing, the Australian and New Zealand governments are warning against travel because of fears of repercussions following the execution of the Bali bombers.
On the other hand, more than 5m tourists visited Indonesia last year without serious incident. I didn’t see anything to concern me about either terrorism or crime during my visit, but that does not mean dangers do not exist.
* Paul Smith visited Jakarta, Manado, Bali and Yogyakarta courtesy of the Indonesian government.

Indonesia As the New India

Indonesia As the New India

This stable democracy with a hot market economy resembles another Asian giant in the 1990s.

George Wehrfritz and Solenn Honorine From the magazine issue dated Oct 20, 2008 Jakarta today could be any of Asia’s 21st-century boomtowns. The malls buzz, traffic snarls and modern office towers dominate the skyline. It all feels profoundly normal—but that’s big progress in a place that, barely ten years ago, seemed destined for ruin. Following the fall of longtime strongman Suharto, and with Indonesia reeling from the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis, many analysts feared that Asia’s third-biggest country (population: 235 million) would go the way of Yugoslavia. Instead, it has become a cohesive, robust and exuberantly democratic moderate Muslim nation. Things are so buoyant that Indonesia invites comparison to another Asian giant: India.

Both remain corrupt, chaotic and excruciatingly complex. Yet each is also an attractive emerging economy, and in India’s case, a star of the developing world. Could Indonesia be next? Its economy grew by 6.3 percent last year, the main stock exchange ranks among the world’s best performers since 2003 and last year foreign direct investment nearly tripled, to a respectable $4 billion. All of which resembles India in the 1990s, when reforms kick-started a potentially massive economy—though outsiders barely noticed until the IT sector took off and growth passed 8 percent. In Indonesia, the key sectors are energy, mining and soft commodities like rubber, palm oil and cocoa. And in an exclusive interview, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono says he sees no inherent reason why a big democracy like his can’t grow as fast China, which has posted 10 percent growth rates in recent years.

That would put Indonesia on a lot of magazine covers. In fact, the country already looks better than India in two ways: its per capita income ($3,348) is a third higher, and thanks to Jakarta’s fiscal austerity, it now boasts one of the lowest debt ratios in the world. “After ten years of restructuring, Southeast Asia’s largest economy is in great shape,” says Nicholas Cashmore, CLSA’s country head and chief researcher in Jakarta.

Indonesia’s political turnaround has been just as dramatic as its economic one. The president, known universally as SBY, is a former general who was elected in mid-2004 and has since become the country’s most effective democratic leader. In four years, he has helped Indonesia roll up its terrorist problem and rebuild from the 2004 tsunami. Less appreciated (but more enduring), he has backed a profound political decentralization program, empowering hundreds of local administrations. Jakarta now rules by consensus, not decree. This has its downsides: it makes it impossible to railroad through big national development projects of the sort China is famous for. As SBY himself admits, “in many circumstances, we face local communities that don’t agree with government projects, so we have to convince them. I do not think the system is wrong. In a democracy like ours, change, reform and resistance are normal.”

The country’s largest parties now basically agree on economic policy and the need to reduce corruption, improve the rule of law and make government more efficient. Key democratic institutions—including a free press, impartial courts and a legislature chosen by voters—are remarkably robust, and the once all-powerful military has largely removed itself from politics. Meanwhile, regional autonomy has triggered economic booms at the periphery, in contrast to the typical Southeast Asian model. “From the U.S., the U.K. or even Hong Kong,” writes Cashmore, “it is difficult to comprehend the magnitude of Indonesia’s potential [or] appreciate just how much more there is to the country beyond Jakarta.” By his calculation, greater Jakarta now accounts for just 15 percent of Indonesia’s GDP, a relatively small share compared to other Asian capitals.

Indonesia’s accomplishments are all the more impressive when you remember how far and fast the country has come. The fall of Suharto’s New Order (a highly centralized system that vested absolute power in the dictator and his cronies) 10 years ago was accompanied by a financial meltdown so severe that the IMF had to step in. Indonesia also faced fierce separatist insurgencies, Christian-Muslim violence and Islamic extremism underscored by the 2002 Bali bombing. The country seemed to be teetering on the brink of wholesale disintegration. Yet today, as Australian National University economist Andrew MacIntyre and the Asia Foundation’s Douglas Ramage argued in a recent report, observers should start thinking of Indonesia “as a normal country grappling with challenges common to other large, middle-income, developing democracies—not unlike India, Mexico or Brazil.”

In some ways Indonesia’s democracy is even more sophisticated than those other states’. Take decentralization. Jakarta, like New Delhi, oversees national defense, internal security, finance, foreign policy and the justice system. But unlike the Indian government, Indonesia’s—thanks to two “big bang” reform packages passed in 2001 and 2006, and supported by SBY—must now coordinate most other activities through the country’s 33 provinces and nearly 500 local administrations, where popularly elected leaders make policy, manage two thirds of all civil servants and oversee everything from schools to economic development. As World Bank economists Wolfgang Fengler and Bert Hofman observe in a soon-to-be-publishe d study, Indonesia has turned itself from “one of the most centralized countries in the world into one of the more decentralized ones.”

To see what that means on the ground, follow the money. Under a new fiscal system implemented in 2001, regions are allocated a huge slice of the country’s budget to spend more or less as they please. Poor and remote areas receive the most per capita, and those with abundant natural resources get shared extraction revenues. According to the World Bank, regional governments in Indonesia now account for 36 percent of all public expenditures, compared with an average of just 14 percent in all developing countries. And locals can promote whatever agendas they choose. “This is the real revolution,” says Erman Rahman, who heads the World Bank’s local governance initiatives in the country. Regions with proactive leaders have become laboratories of experimentation from which innovative anti-corruption, public-health and economic-growth initiatives have emerged. For his part, SBY has enabled this process by maintaining macroeconomic discipline and political stability. And his support for local autonomy has undermined separatism, extremism and communal violence.

One regional pioneer, Gamawan Fauzi, took power in West Sumatra’s Solok region in 2001 and quickly created a one-stop shop for government services, replacing an opaque and complex web of offices and brokers. Fauzi’s concept was to bring all government services under a single roof, post set fees, promote autopayment and guarantee prompt service as a means of rooting out corruption. And it has worked: the model has since been emulated across Indonesia, and Transparency International reports that corruption, while still high, has been reduced substantially.

Other local leaders have earned fame by initiating innovative new programs. Gede Putrayasa, who heads the poorest of nine regencies on the tourist island Bali, won office in 2001 on a pledge to provide universal medical insurance and free education. The latter proved relatively easy (he simply waived the 5,000 rupiah monthly fees), but improving health care without breaking the local budget was tougher. Under the old system, funds went to hospitals and local administrators, who did things like stockpile pharmaceuticals procured from companies that paid kickbacks. Putrayasa’s innovation: provide every local household free health insurance that compensates clinics for services actually provided. “There’s not a big savings,” says Putrayasa, “but everyone is covered and the efficiency is much better because there is no longer any corruption.”

Such reforms have stimulated economic growth. Putrayasa’s health-care and education initiatives (as well as a jobs program that sends underemployed rice farmers to Japan) have reduced the local poverty rate fourfold to just 5.5 percent today. Better local governance has also made Indonesia a major beneficiary of the global soft commodity boom. Together, the value of its four largest crops—rubber, coconut, palm oil and cocoa—rose from $2.3 billion in 2000 to an estimated $19 billion in 2008, CLSA calculates. That’s thanks to local leaders like Fadel Muhammad, governor of the hardscrabble province of Gorontalo on the island Sulawesi, who turned his constituents into the country’s best corn farmers by deploying teams of agricultural consultants; providing subsidized seeds, fertilizers and rental machinery to farmers; and giving cash rewards to village leaders who boost yields. Since 2002, Gorontalo’s poverty rate has shrunk from 49 to 29 percent.

Of course, decentralization has its problems. Analysts and watchdog groups say that while the number of effective leaders in the 500 local administrations has spiked from a handful to 50 or more under SBY, they are sometimes particularly effective at blocking necessary national reforms and projects. The result, says Ramage, is that progress will be “evolutionary, not revolutionary. ” For example, the Trans Java highway, which would link Jakarta with Indonesia’s second-largest city, Surabaya, was launched in 2004 with a target completion date of 2009, but is still only 10 percent done because of local opposition.

Nonetheless, Indonesia has already become a beacon of stability in Southeast Asia and the Islamic world. Its antiterrorism campaign—Indonesia has shut radical madrassas, established an effective counterterrorism force and cracked down hard on suspected cells, while also avoiding human-rights abuses—is seen as a model for the region. And as the world’s most populous Muslim country, Indonesia’s democratization has implications from Morocco to Mindanao in that it exemplifies an alternative to zealotry, intolerance and extremism. “Indonesia is not immune to radicalism we see worldwide, but this is exactly why we must maintain our identity as a moderate, tolerant nation,” says Yudhoyono. “It enables us to prevent a clash of civilizations. ”

SBY is likely to win re-election next year, but even if he loses, analysts don’t expect any sharp change in policy, because all the major political camps in Jakarta agree on the current reform blueprint. Even India does not enjoy that kind of stable consensus on how to catch China.

With Greg Hunt in Hong Kong
URL: http://www.newsweek .com/id/163572

Islamic Group Gains Power in Indonesia

Source: New York Times October 7, 2008

Islamic Group Gains Power in Indonesia

By PETER GELLING

JAKARTA — In a sign of its growing prominence, Indonesia’s Council of Ulemas moved its headquarters from the basement of a major mosque here into an expensive new office tower in the heart of downtown.

The council was established in 1975 as a quasi-governmental body of Muslim scholars by Suharto, the country’s leader for three decades, partly as a tool to keep politically minded Islamic organizations in check. But in the decade since the dictator’s fall, the group — whose leaders have increasingly espoused a radical form of Islam — has worked to establish itself as an assertive political force.

The group, known as M.U.I., built an impressive network of offices throughout the country, staffed by people who promote the council’s view of Islam. It logged its first major political success this summer when the government agreed to severely restrict the activities of a Muslim sect that does not believe that Muhammad was the last prophet.

Advocates of religious tolerance worry that the council’s new clout could signal the start of religious radicalization in a country known for its moderate brand of Islam.

“Islamists use the M.U.I. as a major base of operations, coordinating support for the Islamist agenda,” said Holland Taylor, founder of LibForAll Foundation, an American and Indonesian nongovernmental group that promotes religious pluralism.

Among the goals of some prominent council members is the imposition of Shariah, or Islamic law, throughout traditionally secular Indonesia.

But other experts, even some concerned about the council’s conservative leanings and newfound influence, see the broader radicalization of Indonesian Islam as unlikely. They point out that Indonesia’s largest Islamic association, the Nahdlatul Ulama, promotes tolerance and religious pluralism and that Islamic political parties have struggled to gain ground in recent years.

Beyond that, broad antipornography legislation, which had been championed by the Council of Ulemas and its allies in Parliament, has been scaled back after a public backlash that included large street protests.

“I don’t think the Council of Ulemas is going to turn Indonesia into the Sudan,” said Sidney Jones, director of the International Crisis Group in Jakarta, citing “many other balancing forces.”

The council is an umbrella group that represents established Muslim organizations. In addition to advising the government on religious issues, it distributes fatwas, or religious directives, advising Muslims on how to practice their faith. Its fatwas are nonbinding.

Maruf Amin, the council’s deputy chairman, describes it as a moderate organization that represents the views of more than 60 Islamic groups in this overwhelmingly Muslim country.

“Our job is to communicate to the government the aspirations of Muslim people in Indonesia and to protect the Islamic population here from any bad influences that might lead them to deviate from their faith,” he said in an interview.

But some analysts who have studied the group say Islamic hard-liners have had an increasingly dominant role in the council in the last few years.

“The council has a long history of moderation, but lately it has been infiltrated by some hard-liners,” said Azyumardi Azra, director of the graduate school at Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University in Jakarta. “I have told its leaders that if they want to remain a representative organization, they need to be aware of this infiltration.”

The growing prominence of radical voices is partly a byproduct of the transition to democracy. Radical religious leaders who were often silenced during Suharto’s rule now have the freedom to propagate their views and have often proven adept at using the democratic system.

The growing relevance of the Council of Ulemas is partly a result of a budget some analysts believe is growing. (Neither the council nor the government would provide numbers.) Besides government financing, the council has sole authority to license halal food and medicine.

More recently, the council has tapped into Indonesia’s lucrative Islamic banking industry. It acts as one of several organizations overseeing banks that refuse loans to companies in businesses that run contrary to Islamic values, like those producing alcohol or selling pork.

These financing sources have allowed it to purchase its new office tower and to operate more than 150 satellite offices.

But analysts say the group has also benefited from its relationship with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Although the president is considered moderate, he said last year that after the council issues any fatwas, “the tools of the state can do their duty.”

“Hopefully our cooperation will deepen in the future,” he said during the speech, according to translations by the International Crisis Group.

Some experts said they suspected he was supporting the Council of Ulemas to shore up Muslim backing in elections next year. A coalition of Islamic political parties backed him when he first ran for president in 2004.

The council’s biggest coup so far was Mr. Yudhoyono’s decision in June to restrict the practices of Ahmadiya, a minority Muslim sect.

The council had been calling for a ban on Ahmadiya since 2005 when it issued two fatwas, one against the sect for not believing Muhammad is the last prophet and another calling on Muslims to reject “pluralism, liberalism and secularism.”

On June 1 in Jakarta, opponents of Ahmadiya, some affiliated with Forum Umat Islam, an organization formed to promote the council’s fatwas whose leaders include several prominent council members, clashed with demonstrators supporting the sect. Dozens were injured.

Despite an outcry over the incident, the government ordered Ahmadiya members to “stop disseminating interpretations that deviate from the main tenets of Islam” or face legal action. The government then asked the Council of Ulemas, with its network of chapters, to monitor Ahmadiya’s compliance.

A report in July by the International Crisis Group, which analyzed the conditions leading to the decree, laid significant blame on the dominance of radicals within the council and the council’s growing influence.

Several of those members are leaders of groups blamed for burning mosques and houses belonging to Ahmadiya adherents.

In its annual report on religious freedom in September, the United Sates State Department singled out the Council of Ulemas as “influential in enabling official and social discrimination” against minority religious groups in the last year in Indonesia.

Still, most of Indonesia’s Muslims remain moderate, and some have begun to fight back.

Mr. Taylor, whose group promotes religious tolerance, said moderate groups would need to try to take control of the council or press the government to privatize or dissolve it.

The New York Times

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Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV channel has started broadcasting via an Indonesian satellite, after being taken off a Thai satellite

The Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Israel Intelligence Heritage & Commemoration Center (IICC), 08/09/2008 – Communications and terrorism

 

Communications and terrorism: Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV channel has started broadcasting via an Indonesian satellite, after being taken off a Thai satellite. The Indonesian satellite covers East Asia, China, and Australia. Indonesia is a Muslim country, making it more difficult for the international community to fight the incitement aired by Hezbollah.

The world cannot afford a new Cold War (Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono)

The world cannot afford a new Cold War
By Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
Source: International Herald Tribune  Monday, September 15, 2008

When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, the world had enormous expectations  that it would finally harvest peace dividends from the ruins of the Cold  War.

Indeed, despite the turbulent transition of the international system, we saw some progress. Relations between the major powers improved significantly and the UN Security Council began to function again. The  threat of World War III and nuclear holocaust fizzled and the arms race  was halted. Strategic rapprochement – especially among United States,  China, Russia – occurred and tensions became manageable. Democracy and  open society spread across the globe.

In much of Asia, the guns have been relatively silent – including my  country, where peace now reigns in Aceh. The number of conflicts in the world has declined; the majority of them are now within states rather than between states. Indeed, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, for four straight years, between 2003 and 2007, no inter-state conflicts were recorded.

The last thing that we need now is a new chill in the international system. Yet that new chill is being felt with loose talk of a “new Cold War” between Russia and the West following the recent clash betweenRussia and Georgia over South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

This geostrategic tension, which was fueled earlier by the row over  Kosovo’s independence, remains fluid, with potential for expanded confrontation. That chill is also being felt in the UN Security Council.

It is not likely that the world will go back to the ideological divide of the 20th century. The real danger lies in the fact that this chill, if it persists and reverberates throughout the international system, could  divert attention and resources from the critical issues of the day.

Already, we are seeing disconcerting signs. Military spending by the United States, Russia and China are at their peak, and, except for Russia, higher than at the end of the Cold War.

Total world military spending has increased rapidly in recent years.  Strategic contentions over arms and missiles are resurfacing. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is in jeopardy. There is an evident build-up of mistrust, which makes the risk of geopolitical confrontation more likely.

The international community cannot afford to lose time and focus on defusing the real ticking time bombs: energy, food and climate change. These are the ultimate security threats of our time, and from where we 
stand now, we are barely scratching the surface.

We need to find a proper balance between oil supply and demand, end our addiction to oil and develop cheaper, low carbon alternative energy sources, so that we can end the skyrocketing oil prices now strangulating the world economy.

On food security, we need to achieve a second green revolution – this time more environment friendly – to boost worldwide food supply to prevent potential socioeconomic and political crises in 33 countries, while 
helping the 100 million people worldwide from sliding back into poverty.

On climate change, we need to urgently come up with an ambitious post-2012 global scheme so that we can slow and stop global warming to within two degrees Celsius in the next decades. Meanwhile, countries, particularly major emitters, must begin to ambitiously reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

We also need to push harder so that the global Millennium Development Goal  targets can be achieved on schedule by 2015.

These are all momentous challenges. They transcend East-West and North-South relations. These hard issues will not be resolved by hard power. They can only be resolved by a collective long-term response, 
coupled with adequate political will and enormous resources.

The foundations of our security and survival in the 21st century rest upon our success in meeting these challenges.

And certainly none of these challenges can be achieved unless the major powers work together, and demonstrate the leadership that the world expects of them.

The all-powerful forces of globalization do not make geopolitics irrelevant. But the world cannot afford to slip back into the geopolitics of domination, conquest and confrontation of the past.

Instead, what we need is a new geopolitics of cooperation. This new geopolitics must be driven by the imperative to address common challenges. It would focus on strategic cooperation, not confrontation; on building bridges, not divisions; on the spread of soft – not hard – power; and on mutually assured benefits, not mutually assured destruction.

This new geopolitics is not Utopia. We are already seeing it in practice in many instances: in the admirable global response to the tsunami crisis of 2004; in the global struggle against terrorism; in the six-party talks on North Korea, and in the hard-won success of the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali last December.

Let us stay on course and complete that journey.

Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is the president of the Republic of  Indonesia
http://www.iht. com/articles/ 2008/09/15/ opinion/edyudoyo no.php

Professor Kishore Mahbubani about Indonesia

Kamis, 31 Juli 2008

Lecture By Professor Kishore Mahbubani

Presidential Lecture, in State Palace

LECTURE BY PROFESSOR KISHORE MAHBUBANI,
DEAN OF THE LEE KUAN YEW SCHOOL OF PUBLIC POLICY
AT THE NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF SINGAPORE

AT THE PRESIDENTIAL PALACE,
JAKARTA. 31st JULY 2OO8

Mr President
Distinguished Ministers
Excellencies
Ladies & Gentlemen

I am truly humbled by this request to address such a distinguished
audience. lt is an especially great honor because I come from one of the
smallest states in the world, Singapore. I didn’t realize how small
Singapore was unti lmy wife and I went on holiday on the island Samosir
in Indonesia. It is located in side a lake on the top of a volcanic
mountain, called Lake Toba. But this small island is about the size of
Singapore.

However, growing up in Singapore as a member of a minority group, I came
to realize that I had a special advantage in connecting with all corners
of Asia. My family were Hindu Sindhis. As a young child, I learn to
write Sindhi whichh as the same script as the Arabic script. I also soon
discovered that my name `Mahbubani`came from the Arabic word, Mehboob,
which means beloved. Hence, when I travelt o West Asia, I feel at home.
Similarly, when I traveli n Southh Asia, both in India and Pakistan, I f
eel at home as I can understand Hindi and Urdu. Indeed, I do all my
writing only by listening to the famous Hindi movie singer, Mohamad
Rafi. Equally significantly, through my Chinese friends in Singapore, I
have also developed a sensitivity to East Asia. My Indian origins also
enable me to connect with the Buddhist strains of the Chinese, Japanese
and Korean societies. As an ethnic Indian, I also remember what Presiden
Sukarno said: “ln the veins of every one of my people flows the blood of
Indian ancestors and the culture that we possess is steeped through with
Indian influences.” And of course, I grew up in South East Asia and
learnt Bahasa Melayu as a child.

It is this background whichh as emboldened me to write about the biggest
story we are going to see unfolding in the world: the relurn of Asia.
From the year 1 to the year 1820, the two largest economies were China
and India. Many other parts of Asia, including the legendary Sri Vijaya
and Majapahit empires, thrived together with China
and India. The last 200 years of Western domination of world history
have been a historical aberration, an aberation which is coming to an
end. Hence, Goldman Sachs predicts that by 2050, the four largest
economies will be China, India, USA and Japan. Indonesia will also rank
among the world’s largest economies then. The recent World Bank Growth
Commission Repot reported that 13 economies had grown by an average of
7% over 25 years. This list of super-performers also included Indonesia.

I have no doubts that Indonesia will be part of this great
transformation of Asia. Indeed, Indonesia has already played a heroic
role in the transformation of Asia. lt has successfully made one of the
most difficult transitions any society has to make: the transition to
full democracy. This is a remarkable story which has not been fully
understood by the world.

To describe how remarkable this transformation is, let me tell you what
I actually said when I spoke at a forum organized by Asia Society in San
Francisco on 2l February 2008. One of my fellow panelists was Larry
Diamond, the world-famous expert on democracy. This is what I told them.
The world’s beacon of freedom and democracy
is the United States of America. But in the last seven years, America
has been walking backwards in this area. If someone had told me ten
years a go that the first modern developed society to reintroduce
torture would be America. I would have said “Impossible” . But the
impossible has happen. Ms Irene Khan, the Head of Amnesty International,
has described Guantanamos as “a Gulag of our times”. She is right. In
addition, in a story that has not been fully told, America, the bastion
of civil liberties, has also been quietly retreating in this area. Many
of my American friends are also shocked but they say to me “Kishore, you
must understand, We were massively attacked on 9/11″. It is true that
America was attacked. But the fact that the beacon of freedom and
democracy could retreat in many areas of human rights after one attack
showed how fragile America’s commitment is to some key human rights
principles.

By contrast, the second country to be attacked after 9/1 1was Indonesia.
lt took place one year later on 12 October 2002 in Bali. Despite this,
Indonesia did not retreat. Indeed, even though Indonesia had gone
through a wrenching financial crisis in 1998 and 1999 which caused the
economy to shrink significaitly, and even though it had experienced a
lot of social and political turmoil as a result of this financial
crisis, Indonesia went steadily a head in its advance toward democracy.
Remarkably, less than 10 years after this huge financial crisis, Freedom
House declared in a global survey entitled ‘Freedom In the World” in
2005 that Indonesia’s status has moved from “partly free” to “free”
during President SBY`s term of office. President SBY deserves alot of
credit for this remarkable success. This is why two eminents cholars,
Andrew MacItyre and Douglas Ramage, have said that President SBY “is the
most capable, focused and internalionalist of the post-Soeharto
presidents” and that “his record of leadership is unlikely to be beaten
over the next decade or so”. America may also move forward again
together with Indonesia when it elects a president whose father was also
an lndonesian.

By the way, when I finished describing how A merica had gone backwards
and Indonesia had gone forward in freedom and democracy, I expected
Larry Diamond to disagree with me. Instead, he agreed with me.

To fully understand how remarkable Indonesia’s transformation has been,
imagine the members of the Chinese politburo having a discussion on how
China should make the eventual transition to democracy. I have no doubt
that they are aware that they will have to make this transition. They
also know how difficult this will be and that
even though China’s percapita GDP is higher than Indonesia’s. China is
not yet ready to make this leap into democracy. The Chinese leaders must
be amazed that lndonesia made this successful leap in a period of great
economic snd political uncertainty.

The big tragedy here is that Indonesia`s remarkable story has not fully
spread to the world. This is because the international media`s dominated
by the Western media, which cannot imagine that Asia can do better than
the West in many areas. This is why I chose to write my book on “The New
Asian Hemispherea” at this point in time: to provide a non-Western
perspective on the great transformation of Asia. Something remarkable is
happening in Asia, but the world does not really understand what is
happening. Indeed, many Asians are also not aware of how remarkable the
great Asian story is.

The best way to understand how remarkable Asia’s story is, is to compare
it with the story of Latin America. We all know that the first continent
to modernize was Europe. The second continent to modernize was North
America. The third continent that was supposed to modernize was Latin
America.

Why Latin America? At the beginning of the 20’century, Latin America was
seen as the land of promise for many reasons. Firstly, most of the Latin
American elites had come from Europe. They spoke European languages.
Hence, they were fully expected to replicate Europe’s success in Latin
America. Indeed, an American writer, David Gallagher (reviewing a book
by Michae Reid), described Latin America in that period as follows:

/Between 1850 and 1930, many Latin America countries had a very
successful run. Their economies were relatively open, exports thrived,
and in some countries, democracies looked like consolidating
successfully. By 1910, a century after independence, Argentina was, on
a per-capita income basis, one of the half dozen richest countries in the
world. Immigrants flocked there from all over Europe. Chile was also
thriving. German immigrant had colonized large tracts of the south and
Valparaiso was one of the world’s most prosperous ports”./

We know that the Germans, Spanish and ltalians have created very
successful economies in Europe. So why did these immigrants fail in
Latin America?

The failure of Latin America to develope despite these massive advantage
as hundred years ago is one big story. But there is another even more
amazing story of Latin A merica’s economic failure in the last 25 years.
The reason why this story is amazing is that many Latin American
economies adopted the right and not the wrong economic policies in this
period. Despite this, they failed. Please let me quote a few
distinguished authors who make this point.

Mark Weisbrot and David Rosnick, two American economists, wrote: ” Among
policy-makers and economists in the United States it has been widely
assume that the economic policy changes which began to be implemented in
Latin Americain the early 1980s would eventually bear fruit, and lead to
strong economic growth. A quarter century later, this has not yet
happened. lndeed, these two authors wrote that from the period 1980 to
1999, when Latin America implemented the right economic policies, the
result was that “this is the worst 20-year growth performancfe or more
than a century, even including the years of the Great Depression”.

Let me add that Latin America’s record of economic failure despite
Implementing the correct economic policies is also documented by Danny
Leipziger, a senior World Bank official, and Ricardo Hausmann, a Harvard
Professor. Their papers are cited in footnotes in my text
.
Now, let me come to the remarkable part of the Asian story. One major
Asian country also began to implement the correct economic policies
around the same time as Latin America. And it did so under very
unpromising circumstances. It had experienced 30 years of failed
centrally-planned communist economics. l.t also had a disastrous
experience with both the Great Leap Forward (1958-1960) and the Cultural
Revolution (1966-1976). Any observer watching both Latin America and
China implementing the right economic policies in the 1980s would have
confidently predicted that Latin America would succeed and that China
would fail.

Instead the exact opposite happened. China took off in an explosive way.
Ricardo Hausmann said “whichever way you measure it the events in China
are really remarkable. Chinese out put per worker grew annually at 7.8%
and is 2.8% faster than the second country”. In the same period, the per
capita growth in Latin America grew by 0.5% annually from 1980 to 1999
and actuallyf ell to 0.2% in the five years from1 999 to 2004.

What is the big lesson we should learn from this dramatic contrast
between the experiences of Latin America and China despite the fact that
both implemented the right economic policies? The big lesson is that
economic development is not a result of economic policies a lone. This
is indeed the biggest mistake made b y the Washington consensus: in
leading people to believe that only economic policies lead to economic
growth. Social and political policies play an equally important role.
However, when economic development fails, economists are reluctant to
speculate or assess which social and political policies may have
contributed to economic failures.

The big difference between China and Latin America is the nature of the
Social contract between the governing elites and the population they
governed. When Deng Xiaoping took over the leadership of China, his only
goal was to strengthen China. He knew that the only way to do that was
to unleash the energies of the Chinese. hina’s big advantage was that it
had removed the feudal classes and the feudal mentality with the
communist revolution. Hence, Deng Xiaoping carried out his policies with
the goal of helping all the people of china, and not just a small elite
or feudal group.

By contrast, the main disadvantage of many Latin American societies is
that they continue to have either feudal elites or a feudal mentality.
The ruling classes are more interested in preserving their special
privileges, not in helping the masses of the population. By focusing on
the interests of the ruling elites, not the interests of the population
as whole, the Latin American societies have not been able t o succeed.

In my book, I speak of the seven pillars of Western wisdom that several
Asian societies have begun to implement. These seven pillars explain the
success of Asian societies. One of them is ‘meritocracy’ . The simplest
way of understanding the virtues of meritocracy is to ask this question:
why is Brazil a soccer superpower and an economic middle power? The
answer is that when it looks for soccer talent, it searches for it in
all sectors of the population, from the upper classes to the slums. A
boy from the slums is not discriminated against if he has soccer talent.
But in the economic field, Brazil looks for talent in a far smaller base
of the population, primarily the upper and middle classes.

Asia always had the world’s largest pool of brain power. But it also had
the world’s largest pool of unused brain power. The s imple reason why
Asia is taking off now is that the unused brain power is finally being
used. In my book, I look at the case of India, whichh as had the caste
system for thousands of years. For thousands of years, birth was
destiny. lf you were born untouchable (people below the lowest caste),
you lived untouchable and you died untouchable. To day, as a result of
several reform movements, India is changing. I describe the case of a
young man who was born untouchable, went to school as an untouchable and
sat separately in class and at mealtimes. However he did well in school,
got scholarships, went to Columbia University in New York to get a PhD
in economics. Today, he is the Chief Economist of the Reserve Bank of
lndia. His namei s Narendra J dhav.

China and India a resucceeding and taking off because they are finally
finding the right means of igniting the hundreds of millions of brains
that they always had. After China and India, the third largest pool of
brain poweirs in the ASEAN region, where w e have over 5 00 million
people. The success of ASEAN will be determined by whether we follow
China and India’s pattern and unleash the brain power of the masses or
whether we follow the Latin American path of nurturing the interests of
the elite classes.

Which way will the ASEAN countries go? The honest answer is that the
answeris not clear. One of the most telling comparisons I often take is
between South Korea and the Philippines. In the 1950s, the Philippines
was perceived to be one of the most promising economies in the world. It
had everything going for it: an educated elite, the strong support of
America. By contrast, South Korea was seen to be a basket case,
especially after it had suffered the ravages of the Korean War from
1950-1953. One important fact that I only recentlyl earned is how much
of South Korea was ravaged. Indeed, it almost lost the war. The South
Korean capital, Seoul, had fallen within days and within weeks, the
defending UN forces had been driven to the Southern tip of the Korean
peninsula.

Hence, in 1960, the GDP of the Philippine was US $6.9 billion while that
of South Korea was US$1.5 b illion. The GDP of Philippine was almost
five times larger.

By 2007, the respective figures were 144 billion US dollar and
969.billion US dollar. The South Korean GDP had become almost seven
times larger. What happened? Why did the Philippines fail to keep pace
with the growth of South Korea? The politically in correct answer is
that Philippines society has retained most of the feudal mentality that
continue to bedevil Latin American societies. By contrast, South Korea
managed to remove most trac es of its feudal mentality.

To understand the South Korean story, I would like to strongly
recommened to you a book by the distinguished Harvard Professor,
Professo Erzra Vogel, entitled /The Four Little Dragons: The Spread of
Industrializatiton East Asia. / He did a study to find oout why the
success oh Japan (which he also wrote about in his famous book “Japan is
Number One”), the next few Asian societies succeed were the four Asian
tigers: South Korea, Taiwan, Hongkong, and Singapore. Since these four
societies were very different, the wanted to find out whether there were
any common elements that explained their success.

One common element he found was the following: “concern for the overall
social order led officials to be sensitive to problems of inequality
early in the process of industrialization and to make efforts to spread
income opportunities to all parts of society”. What is remarkable here
is that, even though none of these four societies were Socialist and
even thought he governments of South Korea under Park Chung Hee, Taiwan
under Jiang Jing Guo, Hong Kong under British coionil rule were seen as
right-wing and not left-wing, all these governments focused on making
sure that the fruits and opportunities of development were shared
between all classes, from the top to the bottom, unlike the Latin
American societies, where the bottom never experienced the fruits of
economic growth. In 2007, the Gini coefficient for Brazil was close to
0.6 while that of South Korea and Taiwan w as barely over 0.3.

It is vital to emphasize here that Japan, China, India and the four
tigers did not invent the principle of meritocracy (which I describe as
the principle of looking for talent in all sectors of society).
Essentially, these Asian societies copied the best practices of the
Western developed societies, especially America, which remains the most
meritocratic society in the world. Two of the beste xamples of the
fruits of American meritocracy are the two speakers who preceded me in
this Presidential Lecture series: Shaukat Aziz and Bill Gates. Shaukat
Aziz arrived in America with no educationin any Western university. He
was educated entirely in Pakistani educational institutions. But through
sheer merit he rose to the highest levels of Citibank, part of the group
of seven that ran the bank. Bill Gates went to Harvard but dropped out.
Despite that he ended up as the richest man in the world by creating a
completely new industry.

In my lecture to day, I have only emphasized the virtues of meritocracy,
which is only one of the seven pillars of Western wisdom that I discuss
in my book. Let me briefly mention the other six but as I do so you will
find that they are all linked to the virtue of meritocracy.

The first pillar is free market economics. Free market economics does
not just enhance economic productivity through incentives for good
performance. Free market economic as l so leads to the continuous
creation of new elites and removal of old elites. Indeed one little
known fact is that the best description of the virtues of capitalism is
provided by Karl Marx. His essays explain well how capitalism destroys
feudal elites. The f eudal Latin American elites failed in their
economic reforms because they refuse to give up the “rent” income that
they could extract from their privileged positions. “Rent” income
distorts free markets. One quick way to promote economic growth is to
destroy “rent” income.

The second pillar is science and technology. An enormous shift is taking
place in Asia. The late Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, Richard Smalley has
predicted that by 2OlO, 9% of all PhD holding scientists and engineers
will be living in Asia. The third pillar is meritocracy, which I have
spoken about. The fourth pillar is pragmatism. The best definition of
pragmatism is given by Deng Xiaoping when he said it did not matter
whether a cat is black or white; if it catches mice, it is a good cat.
He used this simple saying to explain to the Chinese people why China
had to switch from centrally planned economics to free market economics.

But Deng Xiaoping was not the first pragmatist in Asia. T he first
pragmatist were the Meiji reformers. After watching the total
colonization of India by the British in1 850s and the humiliation of
China in the Opium War of 1839-1842, the Japanese knew that they too
would be colonized or humiliated if they did not change. So the Japanese
Meiji reformers went out and copied the best practices of the West.

The big untold story of Asia is how so many Asians have successfully
copied this Japanese practice of adapting from the best. Earlier I had
praised the South Korean success in development. One little known secret
about the South Korean success is that South Koreans initiated their
success by copying the Japanese. The reason why this secret is so little
known is because the South Koreans get very angry if you suggest that
they had copied from the Japanese. I discovered this when I wrote an
essay in lime magazine mentioning this fact. The response was a flood of
angry emails from South Koreans denouncing me. Given this strong
Korean-Japanese rivalry, I thought it was a brilliant decision by Dr.
Mahathir to award the contract to build one tower each of the Petronas
Towers to rival Korean and Japanese teams. The result was spectacularly
successful.

The fifth pillar is the culture of peace. The remarkable thing about
East A sia is that even though the biggest wars since World War ll were
fought in East Asia (the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the
Sino-Vietnames War), the guns have been largely silent in our region
since 1980. The sixth pillar is the rule of law. No modern economyc an
function without an impartial and fair rule of law. Foreign investors
need this. So does international trade. This is why China is now
producing more new well traine djudges than any other country. But
China’s case also illustrates the enofmous difficulty of fully
implementing rule of law. Traditionally, most Asian societies have had
rule by law, but not rule of law. Hence, the emperor issues edicts but
is not bound by his edicts. China has a modern society but while in
theory the CCP members are subject to the same rule of law as ordinary
members, in practice they are often not. This is unlike America where
even the President and Senators can be indicted or impeached.

Fortunately, many Chinese CCP members are honest. lf they are not,
China’s economy could not have grown so fast. However, in the long run,
neither China nor any other Asian society can just rely on honesty. We
need to adopt the Western system of rule of law, not rule by law, if we
are to succeed. Andrew Mclntyre and Douglas Ramage have also said that
President SBY “has taken more of a leadership role than his predecessors
in the counter-corruption drive. His official approval and encouragement
have created something of a virtuous circle of reinforcement and
political probity.” This is one of the reasons why the rule of law is
needed: to prevent and eradicate corruption.

The seventh and final pillar is education but it is in some ways the
most important one. Without education -and I mean primary, secondary and
tertiary education- no society can succeed. One reason why China and
India are among the most successful Asian societies is that they have
the largest number of students studying in American universities. In
2006-2007, China had 68,000 students studying in the US and lndia had
83,000 students.

In conclusion, please let me summarize the implications of what I have
said for the future of ASEAN societies, including Indonesia and
Singapore. I would like to conclude with three specific prescriptions to
promote national development:

(l) The first prescription is to develop a win-win /social contract/
between the governing elites and the masses. This is why Japan, China,
India and the four tigers succeeded. Th e absence of such a social
contract is also why the Latin American societies are not succeeding. In
many Latin American societies, the elites want to cling on to their
“rent’ income to ensure that their privileged positions are not
challenged. Hence, no Shaukat Aziz or Bill Gates can emerge or succeed
in such a feudal setting.

The main point to emphasize here is that it is in the interest of the
ruling elites to also introduce meritocracy in the new social contract.
When hundreds of millions of new brains enter the market place, the
economy becomes bigger and the society more socially and politically
stable. When people at the bottom believe that their societies offer
opportunities for them to progress, you also get less crime. When I was
in Latin America, I was explicitly warned that I should stay far away
from the slums. But when I was in Mumbai, India earlier this month, my
youngest son and l wen on a guided tour through the biggest slum in the
city, the Dahravi slum. lt felt safe. People were busy working. The
children were studying in schools. And if the social contract works, the
people will be out of the slums in one lifetime.

(ll) The second prescription is to develop the belief that we can
succeed. As a child, I grew up in Singapore when it was under British
colonial rule. One of the most pernicious effects of colonial rule was
that our minds were colonized.

Hence we were led to believe that the Europeans were naturally superior
to the Asians. This mental belief in the supremacy of the Europeans
carried on long after political independence.

Today, we have a remarkable reversal. The most optimistic young people
in the world are young Indians. While many of them are still poor, they
are confident that their tomorrow will be better than their today. By
contrast, when I travel to Europe, many of the young people are not
confident that their tomorrow will be better than their today.

About a year ago, the International Herald Tribune correspondent in
Mumbai, Mr Anand Giridharadas, called me. He asked me whether there was
too much hype in India. I said that it was always better to have hype
than no hype. Just imagine how differently we would view the future of
Latin America and Africa, if we could generate the same hype in Latin
America and Africa as we have in India today. Hype is a sign of hope.

We should develop the same kind of hype in ASEAN. To do this, we have to
believe that we can succeed.

(III) The third prescription is to focus on the youth. Let me explain
why. There is an Arab proverb which says that he who speaks about the
future lies, even when he tells the truth. The proverb is right. We
cannot predict the future. But there is at least one respect in which we
can make confident predictions about the future: if we can measure the
amount of snow that has fallen in the Himalayas in any winter, we can
predict the future flood levels in the river Ganges because the snow
that has fallen will determine the future flood levels in six months.

In Asia, we see the demographic snow on the ground in the form of our
youth in our countries. If we can educate our youth and prepare them for
a very different world of tomorrow, we have good prospects of creating a
good future. But if we fail to educate our youth, we are guaranteeing
that there will be no improvement in our standard of living. Hence, if
we want a great future, we have to invest in our youth: education,
education, education. Here, Indonesia already has some success stories
worth mentioning. While only 76% of children complete primary school in
India, 91% complete it in Indonesia, even though India spends 7.2% of
its GNP on primary education, while Indonesia spends only 3.2%. In
short, Indonesia has laid some good foundations in this area.

Therefore, in conclusion, the three prescriptions are Social Contract,
Belief and Youth. Please remember these three prescriptions through the
acronym, SBY.

Thank you.

———— ——— ——— ——— ——-
/* Professor Kishore Mahbubani is Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of
Public Policy at the National University of Singapore. He has recently
published/ The New Asian Hemisphere: the Irresistible Shift of Power to
the East.

Ahmadiyah mosque burned as protests grow

A group calling itself the Jamaah Al Mubalighin Communication Forum burned down a mosque belonging to the “deviant” Ahmadiyah sect in Parakan Salak village in Sukabumi regency, West Java, early Monday.

Sukabumi Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Gunthor Ghafar told The Jakarta Post the incident began when the forum members met Sunday for a Koran reading session at At-Taqwa Mosque, about 700 meters from Ahmadiyah’s Al Furqon Mosque.

The forum members then issued a five-point ultimatum to the Ahmadiyah members, including a demand they “return to Islam” and take down the Ahmadiyah sign from Al Furqon Mosque.

Head of Ahmadiyah in Sukabumi, Asep, told the forum members they needed time to discuss the ultimatum.

The two sides then held a meeting around 7 p.m. on Sunday. During the meeting, Ahmadiyah agreed to remove its sign from the mosque, with the promise that the forum members would not vandalize Ahmadiyah property.

However, forum members attacked the mosque and burned it down shortly after midnight.

Earlier this month a government team — the Coordinating Board for Monitoring Mystical Beliefs in Society (Bakor Pakem) — recommended the Ahmadiyah sect be banned because its doctrines deviate from the teachings of Islam.

An Ahmadiyah spokesman told reporters in Jakarta the board’s recommendation to ban the group on the grounds that it is heretical had led to an increase in attacks on its mosques.

“The recommendation has caused an escalation in the destruction of mosques run by Ahmadiyah across Indonesia,” the spokesman, Shamsir Ali, said as quoted by Reuters.

A policeman guarding the Sukabumi mosque was reported to have been hurt in the attack and police questioned eight people in connection with the incident. The National Police later announced two men had been named as suspects.

“We are still investigating this case. We are still discussing the case with the (Sukabumi) prosecutor’s office and military command,” said Gunthor.

Asep demanded the police provide protection for the some 3,000 sect members in the regency. He also hoped police could catch and punish those responsible for the attack on the mosque.

In Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara, Ahmadiyah followers, who have been accommodated at the city’s Transito building for months after being evicted from their homes, read their creed at the shelter’s mosque.

The reading of the creed was intended to show the public that their beliefs are the same as other Muslims.

“Herewith I swear in the name of Allah and Rasulullah (the Prophet Muhammad) that we have no other God other than Allah, no religion other than Islam and no last prophet other than Muhammad …,” M. Syaiful Uyun, an Ahmadiyah official in West Nusa Tenggara, said in leading the other members.

The members hoped their demonstration would counter claims the group was heretical and deserving of a ban.

“Bakor Pakem’s recommendation is not based on facts and is blasphemous,” said one Ahmadiyah member who asked not to be identified.

The members urged the government not to issue a joint decree banning Ahmadiyah, which they said would violate the Constitution, the laws of the country and human rights. (The Jakarta Post)

Rise in global food prices a blessing for Indonesia: President

Wahyoe Boediwardhana ,  The Jakarta Post ,  Pasuruan, East Java   |  Mon, 04/28/2008 11:42 AM  |  Headlines

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono told the Nahdatul Ulama youth wing Ansor on Sunday that Indonesia could benefit from the rise in global food prices.

“In my spiritual contemplation a few days back with friends in Yogyakarta, I arrived at a conclusion that the surge in staple food prices is actually a blessing instead of a disaster,” the President said during a ceremony to mark the 74th anniversary of Ansor in Pasuruan, East Java.

Nahdatul Ulama is the largest Muslim group in the country with ties to the National Awakening Party (PKB) and former president Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid.

Many countries with limited land and natural resources, he said, are suffering from food price inflation, but not Indonesia, as long as we can maintain and improve our agriculture and farming industries, particularly those producing rice, corn, soybeans, sugar, beef, chicken and eggs.

“God willing, (the food price inflation) will be a blessing. Therefore, I urge all members of Ansor to join the government in the effort to increase our food production from now on and ahead,” he said.

This year, he said, East Java was likely to enjoy surplus rice production of three million tons, a significant improvement from three years ago when many doubted the country could regain rice self-sufficiency.

“Last year’s production already met demand. This year, if nothing extraordinary happens, we will enjoy a rice production surplus,” he said, adding that lessons from the rice industry should be implemented in other food-producing industries.

Last week, the government raised the benchmark price for rice purchases by state logistics agency Bulog in order to increase farmers’ incomes and discourage the smuggling of the cereal by addressing the price disparity for rice in Indonesia with that in neighboring countries.

The price of unhusked paddy delivered to Bulog now stands at Rp 2,600 (28 US cents) a kilogram, while stored rice is sold at Rp 4,300.

Rice prices in the Chicago market last week reached a record high at US$1,000 per ton or about Rp 9,200 per kg

To secure domestic supplies, the government also has issued a regulation appointing Bulog as the sole exporter of rice and setting a minimum three million tons annual rice production surplus as a prerequisite for exports.

So far, Bulog has absorbed a total of 1.4 million tons of rice, and is aiming for 2.43 million tons by the end of the year as the country’s total rice production is projected to grow by 5 percent from 33 million tons last year.

Commenting on the surge in oil prices, President Yudhoyono said the country needed to examine where it stood on the situation.

“A smart nation is a nation that is able to take a lesson and a blessing from the crude oil price increases. We have to increase our oil production while seeking other alternative sources of energy,” he said.  (The Jakarta Post)