Friday, February 26, 2021

After COVID warriors, Olympic-bound athletes to get vaccine shot by Fardah


 Jakarta, Feb 27, 2021 (ANTARA) - The Tokyo Olympics, which were postponed for a year owing to the COVID-19 outbreak, will now be hosted by Japan from July 23 to August 8 this year.

Around 200 nations and 10 thousand athletes are expected to converge in Japan for the Games amidst the prolonged pandemic.

The Japanese government has confirmed that COVID-19 vaccination will not be mandatory for Olympic participants as there are sufficient protocols in place.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) earlier said that while vaccination will not be compulsory for athletes participating in the Games, it is encouraging them to get vaccine shots in their countries, if they are available.

Several neighboring countries such as Singapore and Malaysia are preparing to inoculate Olympic athletes.

A total of 264 athletes and officials, who will be representing Malaysia in international competitions ahead of the Tokyo Olympics in July this year, are expected to get their COVID-19 vaccine jabs beginning April, 2021, Bernama reported.

In Jakarta, at least 820 athletes, coaches, and support staff from 40 branches of sports have been administered the COVID-19 vaccine as part of the first phase of the immunization program, which is targeting at least 5,000 athletes, at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium on February 26, 2021.


Athletes who were the first to get vaccine shots included those scheduled to compete in national and international sports events, including the Tokyo Olympics, SEA Games, the All England Open, as well as the Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Cup football match scheduled in March this year.

Vice President Ma’ruf Amin and Youth and Sports Minister Zainudin Amali witnessed the launch of the vaccination campaign for prioritized athletes.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Indonesia contemplates on revising controversial Internet law by Fardah


 Jakarta, Feb 25, 2021 (ANTARA) - President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) hinted at a likely revision to the country’s Internet law -- Law No 11 of 2008 on Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) -- especially to correct articles open to multiple interpretations.

“If its implementation leads to injustice, the law needs to be revised,” Jokowi had tweeted on Feb 15, 2021.

The ITE law essentially regulates the exchange of information and other electronic transactions. It enunciates what is banned on the internet. However, some critics view that its defamation article had been misused to criminalize certain parties, thereby not boding well with the freedom of expression.

In fact, the Jokowi administration and House of Representatives (DPR) had revised the ITE law in 2016, with the objective of correcting the law’s multi-interpretative articles.

However, Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR) and Legal Aid Center for the Press (LBH Pers), in its statement posted on its website (icjr.or.id) on October 28, 2016, echoed its concern over the “half-hearted” directional change of the amended ITE Law.

“From the start, the government has not shown much interest to the enforcement of the ITE law, specifically related to the freedom of expression. Changes made to the ITE Law are only legitimizing the interests of the government to curb the critical attitude of Indonesian society by adding new government powers. Mostly, all amendments add new powers to the government,” the ICJR noted in the statement.

Lately, the ITE law again drew a great deal of attention, especially following the death of a 29-year-old popular Muslim preacher, Ustadz Maaher, who died in a police prison on Feb 8, 2021, while placed in detention since December 4, 2020, over a hate speech case that violated the ITE law.

The outspoken preacher had reportedly filed a request of suspension of his detention owing to his illness and extended his apology over what he wrote on his Twitter account. However, his request was declined.

A similar incident took place on June 10, 2018, when Muhammad Yusuf, 42, a journalist at a local news site, Kemajuan Rakyat, died in a prison after being arrested for five weeks and placed in a Jakarta police prison and later moved to a South Kalimantan prison.

Yusuf was charged with defamation and hate speech for his article on a land conflict between a major palm oil plantation company and local residents of Pulau Laut, South Kalimantan Province. His article was perceived as being provocative and defaming the company.

In 2019, Ahmad Dhani, a famous rock musician and an outspoken opposition figure, was sentenced to a year’s imprisonment after being charged over a hate speech in line with the ITE law.

In fact, during the period between 2016 and 2020, 786 law-related cases were reported, with 88 percent of those charged being placed behind bars, Damar Juniarto of the digital advocacy group, the Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network (SAFEnet), stated.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Indonesia keen to harness untapped sharia economic potential by Fardah


 Jakarta, Feb 23, 2021 (ANTARA) - Indonesia, with the world's largest Muslim population, constituting almost 90 percent of its 271 million people, has yet to unlock the vast, untapped potential of the sharia economy.

It is grim reality that Indonesia continues to trail behind other countries, both Muslim majority and non-Muslim majority nations, in terms of sharia economic development.

Malaysia led the Global Islamic Economy Indicator in 2019, with a score of 111 points, while Indonesia ranked fifth, with 49 points.

The ranking of 15 countries, with a Muslim-majority populace, was based on the indicators of Islamic finance, halal food, Muslim-friendly travel, the modest fashion industry, media and recreation, and pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.

Apart from that, the country's Islamic economic literacy index remains low, notably at around 16.2 percent. In 2019, Indonesia’s sharia financial literacy rate was recorded at only 8.93 percent, according to data of the Financial Services Authority (OJK).

To promote the country’s sharia economy, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) had inaugurated the Sharia Economic Brand on January 25, 2021, with the objective of raising public awareness of sharia economic activities.

"I welcome the inauguration of the Sharia Economic Brand. This is very important to increase public awareness as support for sharia economic activities," the head of state remarked at the launch of the National Movement for Cash Waqf and inauguration of the Sharia Economic Brand at the State Palace in Jakarta.

The head of state, concurrently chairman of the National Committee on Sharia Economics and Finance (KNEKS), remarked that the Sharia Economic Brand will unify forces to boost the added value of sharia economy in Indonesia.

Jokowi drew attention to the fact that sharia economic development was not only being conducted by Muslim-majority nations but also by other countries, including Japan, Thailand, Britain, and the United States.

"We must seize this opportunity by pushing for acceleration. We must work toward accelerating development of the national Islamic economy and finance. We must prepare ourselves as the center of the global Islamic economy," he emphasized.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

SOCIAL SECURITY PROGRAM SEEKS TO ADDRESS POVERTY CHALLENGE by Fardah

 Jakarta, 19/2/2021 (ANTARA) - The COVID-19 pandemic, which has triggered a global economic crisis, is posing a real challenge to many countries, including Indonesia, in their efforts to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of ending poverty by 2030.

Owing to the pandemics impact on the economy, global poverty could increase for the first time since 1990, representing a reversal of approximately a decade of global progress in reducing poverty, according to a study by the United Nations University UNU Wider.

The World Bank, in its Poverty and Shared Prosperity Report, published in October, 2020, confirmed that the poverty reduction progress has slowed down owing to the impact of COVID-19.

The pandemic is estimated to push an additional 88 million out of 115 million people into extreme poverty in 2020, with the total rising to as many as 150 million this year, depending on the severity of the economic contraction, according to the report.

The pandemic and global recession may cause over 1.4 percent of the worlds population to fall into extreme poverty, World Bank group president David Malpass said.

Indonesian Vice President Ma'ruf Amin recently pointed out that an increase in the poverty rate and a wider social gap were among the earliest-to-surface impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He highlighted the numerous measures taken by the government through the COVID-19 Handling and National Economic Recovery Program (PEN) to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on poverty and vulnerability.

In fact, the government has claimed that PEN, especially social protection, in 2020, rescued over five million people from poverty amid the pandemic.

"This means that the PEN program throughout 2020 is believed to have rescued more than five million people from becoming the new poor," chief of the fiscal policy board at the Finance Ministry, Febrio Nathan Kacaribu, said on February 16, 2021.

Monday, February 15, 2021

As La Nina brings disaster, misery, demand for climate action grows by Fardah


 Jakarta, Feb 15, 2021 (ANTARA) - Hydrometeorological disasters, such as floods, landslides, and whirlwinds, have been simultaneously witnessed in several parts of Indonesia during the peak rainy season this year owing to the development of the La Nina phenomenon.

The phenomenon, which has been developing since late last year and has triggered heavier than normal rainfall, is likely to continue until March.

According to the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), a total of 372 natural disasters have struck Indonesia since January this year and left 216 persons dead and 12,056 others injured.

The natural disasters comprise 227 floods, 66 whirlwinds, 60 landslides, seven earthquakes, seven high tides or abrasions, and four forest fires, according to BNPB data, updated as of February 9, 2021.

The data also indicates 4,452 homes have incurred serious damage, 5,336 houses have suffered moderate damage, 37,569 houses have incurred light damage, and 357,365 houses have been flooded, leading to the displacement of 1,769,309 people to safer areas.

The natural disasters have also destroyed 1,290 public facilities and left at least seven people missing.

The major disasters that have occurred in January this year include landslides in Sumedang, West Java, on January 9; a 6.2-magnitude earthquake in West Sulawesi on January 15; and, massive flooding in South Kalimantan, starting January 12.

In early January, torrential rains and unstable soil triggered a series of landslides in Sumedang, which left 19 people dead, 11 others missing, 18 injured, and displaced over one thousand local residents. Rescuers were also among the deceased.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Five volcanoes erupting sporadically in Indonesia since Jan 2021 by Fardah

Jakarta, Feb 15, 2021 (ANTARA) - Indonesia has the largest number and highest density of active volcanoes worldwide, as the country lies in the Pacific Ring of Fire, a horseshoe-shaped region of convergent tectonic plates and several volcanoes.

There are 147 volcanoes in Indonesia, of which 130 are active, spread along the islands of Sumatra, Sulawesi, Java, Bali, Nusa Tenggara, and Maluku.

The archipelagic country has a population of some 271 million and some 17 thousand islands located between the Pacific and Indian Ocean.

On account of the large number of active volcanoes in the country, experts affirm that over 197 million Indonesians are living within 100 kilometers of a volcano, with nine million of them being within just 10 kilometers.

The most destructive explosion on earth in the past 10 thousand years was the eruption of Mount Tambora, standing 4,300 meters tall and located on Sumbawa Island, West Nusa Tenggara (NTB), on April 10, 1815. The ground shook, sending tsunamis racing across the Java Sea. An estimated 10 thousand of the island’s inhabitants died instantly, according to the Smithsonian magazine.

The eruption of Tambora was ten times more powerful than that of the two thousand-meter tall Krakatau. However, Krakatau is more widely known, partly because it had erupted in 1883, after the invention of the telegraph, which spread the news quickly, Smithsonian wrote.

Since January 2021, at least five volcanoes have erupted sporadically in Indonesia: Mount Sinabung in Karo District, North Sumatra Province; Mount Raung in East Java Province; Mount Merapi located between Central Java and Yogyakarta; Mount Semeru in East Java; and Mount Ili Lewotolok in East Nusa Tenggara.

Mount Sinabung, which had erupted sporadically since 2010 after being inactive for some 400 years, erupted again, spouting hot cloud and incandescent lava as far as two kilometers away on February 12, 2021.