Tag Archives: Politics

Peace diplomacy a priority in Kashmir issue

Nearly four million Kashmiris have been under lockdown with movement restrictions and a near communications blackout since August 4, 2019, as the Indian Government recently revoked special status accorded to Indian-administered Kashmir in its Constitution. In the lead-up to the move, India sent tens of thousands of additional troops � joining 500,000 already there – to the disputed region, imposed a crippling curfew, shut down telecommunications and the Internet, arrested hundreds of Kashmiri political leaders, and turned parts of the main city of Srinagar into a fortress of roadblocks and barbed wire.

The latest developments have escalated the tension between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan, which have fought two of their three wars over the disputed territory of Kashmir.

Pakistan formally asked the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) recently to hold an emergency session to address the situation.

As a non-permanent member of the UNSC, Indonesia, however, believes that dialogue and communication between Pakistan and India would be more desirable to resolve the Kashmir problem.

From Indonesia’s point of view, peace and security diplomacy must be prioritized in dealing with the Kashmir issue. Indonesia is also of the view that the solution to the problem should be sought bilaterally by Pakistan and India. A bilateral solution is a key to this problem.

Teuku Faizasyah, spokesman for the Indonesian Foreign Affairs Ministry, said in a statement on August 15, 2019 that it would be better for Pakistan and India to hold a dialogue to resolve the Kashmir problem, because a communication deadlock has led to information scarcity, giving rise to various interpretations that have only led to an escalation of the problem.

In the UN Security Council, Indonesia emphasized the importance of the two countries exercising restraint and resolving the problem bilaterally, Febrian Alphyanto Ruddyard, Director General of Multilateral Cooperation of the Indonesian Foreign Affairs Ministry, said.

Indonesia has closely monitored the flaring of tensions between India and Pakistan in Kashmir following the Indian Government’s move that has triggered resistance from the Kashmiris.

The Government of Indonesia expressed the hope that the conflicting parties would placate tensions, engage in negotiations, and adopt diplomatic means to solve the problem.

“This is because escalating tensions will certainly not benefit anyone. Indonesia expresses hope that communication and diplomacy would be prioritized,” Faizasyah said in a statement issued on August 7, 2019.

The Indian presidential decree revokes Article 370 of India’s Constitution that guaranteed special rights to the Muslim-majority state, including its right to its own Constitution and decision-making process for all matters except defense, communications, and foreign affairs.

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir has expressed “deep concern” over the recent developments, AlJazeera reported.

In a statement at an emergency meeting held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Secretary General Yousef bin Ahmed al-Othaimeen, reaffirmed the OIC’s “support to the people of Jammu and Kashmir in their just struggle to achieve their legitimate rights, in particular, the right to self-determination.”

Meanwhile, Agung Nurwijoyo, political observer of South Asian affairs, in the University of Indonesia, has urged the Indonesian Government to take a proactive role in restoring peace in Kashmir.

Indonesia has a moral responsibility to be actively involved because the country has historical, socio-political and economic ties with both India and Pakistan, Nurwijoyo, said.

Indonesia, India and Pakistan are among the initiators of the Asia-Africa Conference in 1955 and founders of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) established in 1961. Besides, Indonesia’s position is neutral so it could be entrusted to encourage India and Pakistan to communicate and go back to the negotiation table.

Another call for Indonesia to play a more active role was voiced by Amin Sudarsono, President Director of SEAHUM (Southeast Asia Humanitarian Committee).

Indonesia should become a mediator of a dialog between India and Pakistan to prevent more civilians from becoming victims of humanitarian conflict, he noted.

“SEAHUM wants to convey two things. First, the Indonesian Government has a big chance to promote peace diplomacy in Kashmir. Second, we, as a humanitarian organization, will always be on standby to watch second by second the situation there. So far, we have not heard information about human movement after the communication line has been cut off, and 10 thousand troops have been deployed in Kashmir,” he said.

On Aug 14, 2019, Minister Retno Marsudi had separate meetings with the ambassadors of India and Pakistan to Indonesia, to listen to their governments’ perspectives regarding the Kashmir problem, and to encourage the two neighboring countries, which was initially one nation, to restore communication.

“Back from Banyuwangi, I separately received the Ambassador of Pakistan, Abdul Salik Khan, as well as the Charge d’affaires of India, Prakash Gupta in Jakarta,” Marsudi tweeted.

Source: ANTARA News

President places central focus on maintaining spirit of unity

Jakarta (ANTARA) – The spirit of unity should be maintained by upholding the five principles (Pancasila) and the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia (NKRI) and adopting a tolerant and appreciative approach to differences in society.

“I am certain that Indonesian unity will always lead us to peace. I am sure that by firmly upholding the spirit of Indonesian unity, our big house will not collapse. However, it will stand not only for 500 years but also for ever,” the president remarked while delivering his annual speech to the MPR, House of Representatives (DPR), and Regional Representatives Council (DPD) at Jakarta, Friday.

With 74 years of independence to its credit, Indonesia, as a large house, has remained strong and united in the face of myriad challenges.

President Joko Widodo remarked that Indonesia can stand firmly owing to its strong philosophical foundation of Pancasila that serves as a basis of the state, a guiding beacon, and concurrently a unifying force of Indonesia.

“In this house, we live in harmony without discrimination grounded on religious backgrounds, ethnicities, racial differences, or groups,” the president noted.

Indonesia, as a big house, is a place for all people, a living space for children of the nation, from Sabang to Merauke and from Miangas to Rote Island.

“In this big house, all children of the nation can work, move, and struggle to realize our dreams and aspirations,” he stated.

Jokowi affirmed that the differences also never posed a barrier for the Indonesian people to unite. In unity lay boundless energy to mobilize all energy and thoughts for the advancement of Indonesia.

“In unity, we find solidarity, care, and enthusiasm for sharing among the nation’s children,” he added.

Source: ANTARA News

Understanding Jusuf Kalla’s message to Indonesia

We do not want to be just consumers of technology. In its place, we must also be part of innovation. Technology indicates an advancement, but it is also a challenge, as it changes human life and behavior

This year marks the end of Vice President Muhammad Jusuf Kalla’s leadership term as he will be replaced by Ma’ruf Amin, incumbent President Joko Widodo’s (Jokowi’s) running mate in the 2019 Presidential Elections. His presence at this year’s flag-raising ceremony at the Merdeka Palace to commemorate the 74th anniversary of Indonesia’s Independence Day on August 17 will also be the last historic moment for him in his capacity as the country’s vice president.

Despite the fact that this noted figure, who was born in Watampone, Bone District, South Sulawesi Province, on May 15, 1942, will leave the government, his endless contributions to the nation will never be forgotten.

His great contribution to the attainment of everlasting peace in Aceh, the westernmost province of Indonesia which lies on the northernmost tip of Sumatra Island, for instance, will be recorded for posterity in the country’s modern history.

His insightful views and perspectives on how to make a stronger and better Indonesia that he has conveyed at different fora during his vice presidential term may also be regarded as valuable inputs for the Jokowi-Amin administration.

In addressing the fact that Indonesia has yet to be part of global innovation networks, Kalla has reminded Indonesians to not be trapped in a condition that makes them mere consumers of the world’s rapid technological developments.

“We do not want to be just consumers of technology. In its place, we must also be part of innovation. Technology indicates an advancement, but it is also a challenge, as it changes human life and behavior,” Kalla affirmed on July 22.

Innovation in Indonesia can only be enhanced if its human resources are good and capable, Kalla pointed out while speaking at the opening ceremony of the 2019 Indonesia Development Forum (IDF) held at the Jakarta Convention Center (JCC) in Senayan, Central Jakarta.

Indonesia would be able to have a pool of well-trained and educated human resources only if it were to improve the quality of education for its people, he emphasized.

Besides a dire need to improve its people’s quality of education, when speaking at a seminar on economic transformation for advancing Indonesia, in Jakarta on August 9, Kalla highlighted the importance of having assertive political policies and a large number of entrepreneurs for the country.

With these variables, Indonesia will be able to realize its economic transformation from traditional agriculture to industry to be on par with other Asian countries, he believed.

Kalla referred to the experiences of Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and Singapore that are termed as “The Four Asian Dragons,” saying that they witnessed an economic transformation, from agriculture to industry, to enable them to enjoy added values and capability to compete in the global economy.

China was able to transform its economy, from an agrarian state to an industrial one within three decades, making it one of the world’s largest producers.

“Our first and foremost homework is having assertive and solid policies for transforming our economy. These had been carried out by Lee Kuan Yew (Singapore), Deng Xiaoping (China), and Park Chung Hee (South Korea).”

In addition to assertive political policies, shifts in the industrial sector also demand a huge number of entrepreneurs, technological capability, and financial capital to run business activities, Kalla noted.

In addition to the homework stated above, Kalla further opined that the country’s current challenges are no longer related to foreign invasion but to the global dominance of foreign countries in economy and technology.

“At the regional level, our major challenges are related to economy,” he told middle-rank officers of the Indonesian military (TNI) and police at the Navy Staff and Command School (Seskoal) on August 14.

Based on several research reports and predictions, Indonesia would not face an inter-state adversary that would pave the way for a foreign invasion in the next 20 to 30 years, Kalla argued.

Instead, the possible attacks on Indonesia from foreign countries would be related to economic capability, particularly in connection with an ability to increase export-oriented industrial products.

With regard to this issue, Indonesia has been challenged by China because the world’s second-biggest economy could likely “attack” Indonesia by flooding its domestic markets with cheap products.

“China will not invade Indonesia. Instead, it will ‘attack’ us for our economic capability, and our industry may get stuck if we have no resilience,” Kalla said.

Strengthening economic resilience was an indispensable fact for Indonesia not only to address the economic dominance of other countries but also to maintain its internal social and security stability, he said.

The economic crisis that Indonesia underwent in 1998 ended with social unrests in which, due to its economic hardship, so many shops were looted and robbed, Kalla argued.

“At that moment, we were united in building our nation. We were not disunited but together,” he said.

By considering the existing challenges, Kalla urged the middle-rank officers of both TNI and the National Police to adapt Indonesia’s defense and security-related strategies to the demands of the world’s current economic condition.

“The TNI and National Police are not only under pressure to be ready for war but they are also requested to be ready for responding to the nation’s social problems. The winner will be the one who is excellent in innovation, technology, and economy,” he said. (INE)

Source: ANTARA News

ASEAN should move faster for mitigation of peatland fires, haze

The 2016-signed financing agreement of “Sustainable Use of Peatland and Haze Mitigation” (SUPA) for climate change mitigation in ASEAN, though should have been implemented since June 2018, had yet to receive ASEAN’s approval for action. This statement was made by the German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ).

SUPA is commissioned by The European Union and German Federal Ministry For Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) and will be implemented by GIZ. This program proffers benefits comprising management of risk of wildfires and reduction in transboundary smoke haze, according to the statement from GIZ.

“So far, it is not possible to have activities on the ground. Moreover, there is already an existing financing agreement between the ASEAN and European Union,” the program leader, Berthold Haasler, stated.

“We hope to receive the final approval at the end of this month, then implement the agreement in September between the ASEAN and GIZ, and we start activities at the regional levels,” Haasler remarked.

It’s just a question of formal finalization. All member states have to approve, so you have to wait sometimes, he added.

The SUPA supports the implementation of the ASEAN Program on Sustainable Management of Peatland Ecosystems 2014�2020 (APSMPE), with the objective of promoting the sustainable management of peatlands in the ASEAN region through collective actions and to intensify cooperation to support and sustain local livelihoods, according to the European Union.

Peatlands provide valuable support to the ecosystem, preserving the global biodiversity and carbon storage. In Southeast Asia, the tropical lowland peatlands, with predominantly peat swamp forest, covers 24.7 million hectares and represent 56 percent of the tropical lands, according to GIZ.

It is estimated that peatlands in Southeast Asia store around 68 billion tons of carbon, constituting 14 percent of the total carbon stored in peatlands globally. Among all ASEAN member countries, Indonesia boasts the most peatland area.

The SUPA program is structured into two components as the goal of the first component is to strengthen regional cooperation in the ASEAN by mainstreaming peatland strategies and facilitating regional knowledge exchange to enhance sustainable peatland management at the local, provincial, and national levels.

The second component aims to improve non-state actor participation in sustainable management and use of peatlands and will come under the direct management of the EU.

Charge d’Affaires a.i. of the Mission of the European Union to ASEAN, Lucas Cibor, stated that when it comes to climate change and environmental impacts, the EU will encourage ASEAN nations to adopt as many approaches as possible.

“These are issues that can only be dealt with at a global level, necessitating a regional approach as a starting point,” he emphasized.

Head of Cooperation Indonesia at the EU Delegation Hans Famhammer hinted at the possibility of starting the actual implementation of SUPA likely in October, “it’s ongoing,” he added.

The ASEAN has yet to respond to ANTARA on when the final approval on SUPA will be released.

Despite hopes pinned high on the ASEAN walking the talk on SUPA immediately, Mother Nature has its own clock. The Australian monsoon can make parts of Southeast Asia prone to fires in the next week, according to the Fire Danger Rating System (FDRS) early warning system.

The land fire potential was detected in Indonesia, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, and some small parts of Myanmar, Vietnam, and Laos on Aug 6-8, it stated.

“Currently, most parts of Indonesia and some other countries in the ASEAN have experienced the Australian monsoon, characterized by dry winds that blow from the southeast,” Deputy for Meteorology of the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) Mulyono R. Prabowo stated on Wednesday (Aug 7).

The weather is also affected by the anomaly of sea surface temperature in the Indonesian waters, especially on the south side of the equator; weak intensity of the El Nino phenomenon that hit the region since the end of 2018; and the Indian Ocean Dipole Mode.

This has triggered a drier season in 2019 than that in 2018, Prabowo noted.

The dry condition was followed by the emergence of hotspots that can be indicative of land and forest fires. It will produce haze and deteriorate the air quality. Hence, we need to increase awareness and prepare measures to minimize the impact,” he elaborated.

These natural phenomena should be a warning sign for all ASEAN member countries to work faster in implementing SUPA.

Source: Antara News