Saturday, December 31, 2016


Jakarta, Dec 31, 2016 (Antara) - Indonesia was battered by 2,342 natural disasters in 2016, the highest in the past 14 years, making it one of the most violent years in recent memory.
         According to data from the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), the number of natural disasters increased by 35 percent during 2016 from 1,732 in the previous year, with flooding, landslides and whirlwinds still dominating.
            As many as 522 people were killed, and some three million others were affected or displaced in the disasters, which also damaged at least 70 thousand houses. The nation lost tens of trillions of rupiahs due to the catastrophes.      
      Ninety-two percent of the natural disasters that hit Indonesia during the year were hydro-meteorological in nature -- floods, landslides, and whirlwinds.
           The country was stricken by 766 floods (up 52 percent from 2015), 612 landslides (up 19 percent), and 669 whirlwinds (up 15 percent).
          Flooding claimed 147 lives and affected 2.72 million people. Landslides killed 188 people, an increase from 135 in 2015.
          "Natural disasters have caused a lot of suffering, mostly among the poor," Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman of BNPB said in a statement issued on Dec 29, 2016.    
      "Surveys in several regions show that the poor people have suffered more because of the natural disasters. Imagine, those living along Bengawan Solo River have been hit by floods five times a year, and in Sampang (Madura) 15 times a year, on average," he said.

Thursday, December 29, 2016


 Jakarta, Dec 29, 2016 (Antara) - Tourism in Central Sulawesi is now back in business as the provincial government has planned an international cycling and tourism event called Tour de Central Celebes (TdCC), starting next year.
       Celebes is the former name of Sulawesi, one of the four Greater Sunda Islands, and the world's eleventh-largest island, situated between Kalimantan (Borneo) and the Maluku Islands.
        Sectarian conflicts in Poso, Central Sulawesi, from the late 1990s to the early 2000s, had slowed down the tourism industry in Central Sulawesi Province.
       But now, peace has returned to the province, which was once known for its inter-faith harmony and tolerance before the conflicts were provoked.
       In March this year, the total solar eclipse phenomenon turned into a free tourism promotion event for the province. Many domestic and foreign tourists came to Sigi District, some 15 km from the Central Sulawesi capital of Palu, to watch the rare natural phenomenon.
        In addition, Central Sulawesi has a number of popular tourist destinations, including mountainous areas, lakes, beaches, and forests. The tourist attractions include Lake Poso; Lore Lindu National Park, which is filled with mysterious megaliths and has a wildlife-rich jungle; Togean National Park; the Salodik and Saluopa Waterfalls; the Morowali Nature Reserve where the Wana people of the jungle live; Talise Beach; and the white-sand Tanjung Karang Beach for divers and beach bums alike.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016


 Jakarta, Dec 27, 2016 (Antara) - The year 2016 was tainted by five hostage-taking incidents, occurring between March and July, with a total of 24 Indonesians being kidnapped for ransom by the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group hiding in the Philippine forests.
       The first incident occurred on March 26, when 10 Indonesian ship crew members were abducted in waters near the Philippines.
       They were released in May as a result of effective cooperation between the Philippine and Indonesian governments, according to President Joko Widodo (Jokowi).
        Flanked by Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi and Commander of the Indonesian Defense Forces (TNI) General Gatot Nurmantyo, the head of state revealed that both formal and informal approaches had been deployed to secure the release of the abducted Indonesians.  
   The latest incident occurred on July 9, when three Indonesians were abducted from a Malaysian-flagged trawler, LLD113/5/F, in the Felda Sahabat waters, Tungku, Lahad Datu, Sabah State, Malaysia.
        Most of the captives from all incidents were gradually released unharmed in September and October, except for two persons identified as Mohammad Nazer, 62, and Robin Peter, 32, taken hostage with five other crew members of the tugboat Charles on June 22, off the waters of Sulu.

Saturday, December 24, 2016


Jakarta, Dec 24, 2016 (Antara) - Having more than 1,300 ethnic groups and 400 distinct languages and dialects, are certainly challenges for the 250-million population of Indonesia, the fourth most populated nation in the world, after China, India and the US.
         Moreover, the country comprises some 17,000 islands and lies between the Ring of Fire and the Alpide Belt, resulting in the country being prone to volcano eruptions, earthquakes and subsequent tsunamis.
         The Ring of Fire is a major area in the basin of the Pacific Ocean where a large number of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur annually. With its 40,000 km horseshoe shape, it is associated with a nearly continuous series of oceanic trenches, volcanic arcs, and volcanic belts and/or plate movements. It has 452 volcanoes, including more than 75 percent of the world's active and dormant volcanoes.
         Indonesia has experienced among the world¿s deadliest natural disasters, such as the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa Volcano, and a magnitude-9.3 earthquake off Aceh waters that triggered a massive tsunami on Dec 26, 2004.
        The Indian Ocean earthquake and its resulting tsunami killed an estimated 225,000 to 230,210 people, mostly in Aceh Province and Nias Island (North Sumatra Province), as well as several other countries in Southeast and South Asian regions.


Jakarta, Dec 24, 2016 (Antara) -  Set up nearly a year ago, Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG)  has wasted no time in protecting and restoring peatlands and, consequently,  preventing wildfires in Indonesian forests.   
   The destruction of peatlands and forest fires are closely linked, because clearing and draining peatlands for oil palm and pulpwood plantations are major causes of Indonesia's recurring fire and haze crises.
        Last year, haze produced by forest fires impacted the health of thousands of people in South-East Asia, particularly in Sumatra and Kalimantan Islands, and cost Indonesia's economy an estimated $16.1 billion, according to data from the World Bank.
        And this year, Indonesia remains haze free, after two decades of experiencing annual forest fires that triggered haze and chocking much of the public, Environmental Affairs and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya has confirmed.
        "For the first time, in 2016, we did not experience major forest fires, thanks to the joint hard work of many in the regions. The number of hotspots decreased by 80 to 92 percent, according to the NOAA and Terra satellite methods," the minister said on Dec 10, 2016.  
   The government has set up an integrated forest fire control team comprising, among others, military and police officers, as well as a preventive and early detection mechanisms to curb forest fires.
        Additionally, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi), under Presidential Regulation No. 1 of 2016, dated January 6, 2016,  established BRG to prevent forest fires, particularly those affecting peatlands, and to restore areas destroyed by fires.

Thursday, December 22, 2016


Jakarta, Dec 22, 2016 (Antara) - West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) Province is blessed with beautiful white-sand beaches, forest-covered mountainous areas and a distinct culture. The province comprises islands of Lombok, Sumbawa and hundreds of smaller ones.   
   Located not far from Bali and scenically no less beautiful than Bali, NTB attracted 2.25 million tourists in 2012, 2.49 million in 2013, and 2.51 million in 2014.
        The NTB administration has set a target of attracting three million tourists in 2016, and is expected to generate Rp750 billion in revenue from tourism.  Besides, the province also hopes to attract 3.5 million visits by 2017 and four million by 2018. 
   The target has been incorporated into the provincial Medium Term Development Plan 2018.
        Lalu Moh Faozal, head of the NTB Tourism and Culture Office said recently that the target was determined after taking into account the number of tourists staying at hotels and those who visited the region via any entry point, be it the Lembar seaport in West Lombok, Sape seaport in Bima, Bangsal seaport in North Lombok, or the Lombok International Airport in Central Lombok district.
        "Those are the mainstays through which tourist enter West Nusa Tenggara," Faozal added.
        The number of visitors coming to the province for Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) was also factored in while setting the target.
       "Currently, the number of tourists has reached 2.9 million. Before the close of the year, we are optimistic that the target of three million tourists will be achieved," he assured.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016


 Jakarta, Dec 20 , 2016(Antara) - As holiday season to celebrate Christmas and New Year is approaching, many Indonesians are getting ready to spend the holidays with their families in tourist resorts and parks, including Bogor botanical garden.
         To help beautify the botanical garden, members of the Presidential security unit (Paspampres) on Dec 17 joined a clean-up activity for Ciliwung River, which crosses the garden, located in Bogor City, West Java.
          President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) and the First Lady live in the Bogor Presidential Palace, located within the complex of the 87-hectare botanical garden, against the backdrop of Mt. Salak.
         Wearing a sport shirt, Jokowi came out of the Bogor palace at 10:30 a.m. local time on that day to watch his guards cleaning the river. He also toured the botanical garden and greeted the garden's visitors.
         "Ciliwung River is cleaner now. It's still dirty, but it is cleaner than it was in the past," the Head of State said.
         The Commander of Paspampres Major General Bambang Suswanto noted the clean-up was organized to commemorate the 71st anniversary of the unit.
         The event drew participation from more than 200 people, including police and military officers and members of the Ciliwung Care Community (KPC), among others, who picked up trash in the Ciliwung River.
         "We hope to see a cleaner Ciliwung River passing through the botanical garden, but so far, we have seen garbage on both sides of the river," he stressed.

Saturday, December 17, 2016


Jakarta, Dec 17,2016 (Antara) - Many inhabitants of Riau Province have a fleeting sense of relief since, for the first time in the past 18 years, they were not choked by haze coming from forest and plantation fires, thanks to all out efforts by Indonesian authorities to put out the fires.
         Indonesia remained haze-free in 2016, after two decades of experiencing annual forest fires that had triggered haze, Environmental Affairs and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya has confirmed.
       "For the first time, in 2016, we did not experience major forest fires thanks to the joint hard work of many in the regions. The number of hotspots decreased by 80 to 92 percent, according to the NOAA and Terra satellite methods," the minister said on Dec 10, 2016.   
   The number of hotspots, from January 1 to December 9, 2016, reached 3,844, a significant drop from 21,847 during the same period in the previous year.
        In Riau, the Sumatran province worst hit by haze, there were 1,924 hotspots last year, and this year, there are only 371. In Central Kalimantan, the number of hotspots dropped from 4,283 last year, to 257 this year.
         Based on data from the TERRA and AQUA Satellites from NASA, during this same period the number of hotspots significantly decreased from 70,252 last year, to 3,814 this year.   
   The minister expressed her appreciation to all members of the forest fire teams who have done their best in the field to prevent or extinguish forest and plantation fires. The teams were made up of  military and police personnel, regional administration officers, and local inhabitants.

Thursday, December 15, 2016


Jakarta, Dec 15, 2016 (Antara)- Indonesia has expressed concern  over the problem in  Rakhine State in Myanmar, where Muslim Rohingya ethnic minority continuously faces persecution and atrocities.
        Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi conveyed the concern during her meeting with Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi in Naypyidaw on Dec.6, 2016.
         "Indonesia hoped that condition in the Rakhine State could be normal again with human right protection and respect including the rights of Muslim community there," Retno Marsudi said. 
    The recent bloodshed in November 2016 was the most serious since hundreds were killed in communal clashes in the western Myanmar state of Rakhine in 2012.
         In late 2012, sectarian violence between Rohingya Muslims and Rakhine Buddhists had again broken out and claimed about 200 lives and left at least 110,000 displaced in Rakhine. A vast majority of the victims were Rohingya Muslims.
       The 2012 tragedy had prompted the then Indonesian foreign minister Marty Natalegawa to visit Myanmar to get first hand information about the problem there.
        After the conflict in June 2012, the quality of life of the Rohingya ethnic group had been badly affected, particularly because they have no source of income.
        To demonstrate Indonesia's sympathy and solidarity, the Indonesian government had donated US$1 million in humanitarian aid to the victims of the ethnic violence in Rakhine State for the construction of their houses.      

Wednesday, December 14, 2016


Jakarta, Dec 14, 2016 (Antara) - President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) paid a state visit to India in the last month of 2016 to boost bilateral trade and invite Indian businessmen to invest more in Indonesia.
          India is Indonesia's largest trade partner in South Asia and fourth largest trade partner in the world, with a trade balance reaching US$14.6 billion, or 4.9 percent of Indonesia's total trade value in 2015.
        In the same year, India invested in 43 projects worth $15.5 million in Indonesia, an increase from the $12.89 million it invested in 2014. India mostly invests in the food, textiles, and transportation sectors.
         Indonesia has enjoyed a large trade surplus with India and continues to boost bilateral trade ties, particularly by diversifying products and commodities exported to India.
         Foreign Affairs Minister Retno LP Marsudi said, in addition to CPO and coal, which are Indonesia's main exports to India, Indonesia should be able to export other products to the South Asian nation, such as furniture, gambier, and areca nuts.
         During the two-day visit (Dec 12-13), the president explored the possibility of diversifying exports.   
    The first visit of President Jokowi to India is intended to reciprocate the visit of the Indian prime minister to Jakarta in 2013 and the visit of the Indian vice president to Indonesia in November 2015.  

Monday, December 12, 2016


Jakarta, Dec 12, 2016 (Antara) - While many people were asleep, a strong shallow earthquake rocked Pidie Jaya and neighboring districts in Aceh Province, at 5:03 a.m. local time, on Dec 7.
        Following the tremor, they rushed out of their buildings and tried to reach higher ground, as the quake was felt strongly and had raised memories of the deadly tsunami that had devastated Aceh in December 2004. One of the locals even said she felt the earthquake had been stronger than that of 2004.
        However, this time, there was no tsunami after the tremor, which the US Geological Survey said struck just offshore at a depth of 8km.
         Indonesia's Meteorological, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) reported that the epicenter of the 6.5-magnitude earthquake was at 5.19 degrees northern latitude and 96.36 degrees eastern longitude, at a depth of 10km on land, some 18km northeast of Pidie Jaya, or 106km southeast of Banda Aceh, the capital of Aceh Province.
         BMKG said the quake's intensity was a VII-VIII MMI (Marcelli Modified Intensity) in Pidie Jaya.
         It also recorded 74 aftershocks that were felt by inhabitants of the districts of Pidie Jaya, Pidie, Aceh Besar, Sabang, Bireun, and Lhokseumawe.
          The tremors have traumatized locals who are reluctant to stay indoors.
         A total of 103 deaths have been confirmed so far. Some 8 thousand inhabitants were seriously or slightly injured in the disaster, and they were evacuated to receive medical treatment.

Saturday, December 10, 2016


Jakarta, Dec 10, 2016 (Antara) - The Bali Democracy Forum, attended by over 200 delegates from 96 countries and five international organizations, has called for a synergy of religions, tolerance and democracy during the two-day meeting that took place in Nusa Dua, Bali, some 20 days before the year 2016 ends.
         The theme of this year's forum is "Religion, Democracy and Tolerance," which is highly relevant due to the current global situation witnessing an increase in narrow understanding of religions.
         "Tolerance is needed because we are diverse," President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) said in his opening remarks on Dec 8.
         Religion plays a crucial role in people's lives in terms of their social, economic and political existence on a national, regional and global scale, he stated.
         He said Islam came to Indonesia first in the 7th century with a peaceful spirit, which Indonesian Muslims have continued to foster until now.
         "Beside Muslims, Indonesia is also home for Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and Confucians," he said, emphasizing the importance of tolerance and pluralism.
         "There are more than 1,300 ethnic groups in Indonesia. Indonesia is the world's largest Muslim nation. Muslims make up 85 percent of the population of 252 million," Jokowi noted.
         The Indonesian Government has been active in encouraging synergy between democracy, religion, and tolerance, to promote harmony among Indonesian citizens. 
    The head of state said it is crucial to make sure that democracy works well, supports stability and peace, and brings prosperity to the public.

Monday, December 5, 2016


Jakarta, Dec 5, 2016 (Antara) - A mass Friday prayer held in downtown  Jakarta on December 2, 2016 was a historic event for the Muslims of Indonesia as it was believed to be the largest ever Friday prayer held on the streets with several million people attending.
        Muslim men and women who participated in the prayer came not only from Jakarta but also from other provinces throughout Indonesia. No flags of political parties or banners of any gubernatorial candidates were seen during the mass prayers. Several non-Muslim sympathizers, including those of Chinese descent, were also present.
        Most of the audience came on its own, bearing their own expenses, and many of them claimed they were moved to join the prayer because of their love for Islam and in particular for its Holy Book, Al Quran, and for maintaining the unity and diversity of Indonesia.
        Even the organizer of the mass Friday prayer, the National Movement of Guardians of the Indonesian Ulema Council's Fatwa (GNPF-MUI) did not make any claim that bringing together so many people was in any way their success.
        The GNPF-MUI leaders believed that no figure or party or organization could have mobilized such big numbers. The crowd turned up because of an appeal to their conscience.
        No one could have the exact count of audience's numbers but the GPMUI estimated it to be around 7.5 million. Different media, however, came out with different estimations, varying from hundreds of thousands, one million, two million, or even three million.

Saturday, December 3, 2016


Jakarta, Dec 3, 2016 (Antara) - Fifty cyclists who participated in the cycling and tourism event, Tour de Timor (TdT), reached the finish line in Kupang, the capital of East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), on Dec 2, 2016, after traversing through six districts of Timor Island.
       Their arduous journey had begun on Nov 30, 2016.
        NTT Governor Frans Leburaya greeted the participants who had started from Belu District, which shares border with the tiny country called Timor Leste, located in the eastern part of Timor Island.
       Riky, a TdT event organizer, disclosed that all the participants were Indonesians.
        All of them agreed that they enjoyed the tour very much, right from the start till the finish, Ricky added.
        They expressed their gratitude towards the local inhabitants and officials of the six districts for their hospitality and warm welcome.
        The cyclists were thrilled and challenged by the extreme topography of the Timor Island, which was very steep in certain locations, reported.
        They looked forward to again participating in the annual sports event, and hoped more cyclists from many countries will join them.
         Governor Leburaya promised to hold the TdT and Tour de Flores events annually to promote tourism in his province.
        He admitted that the TdT's implementation witnessed some shortcomings this year and promised to improve these next year.

Friday, December 2, 2016


Jakarta, Dec 2, 2016 (Antara) - It takes a village to raise a child, according to an African proverb that leverages the cultural context and belief that it takes an entire community to raise a child.
         To deal with the problem of street children in particular, the Social Affairs Ministry alone is not enough. The cause needs cross-ministerial coordination, among other things, to return the children to their homes so that they can live decently.
         Social Affairs Minister Khofifah Indar Parawansa recently informed that an MOU among multiple ministries and community elements was signed on helping street children. 
    "We agreed today to have an MOU among multiple ministries and community elements. There is a commitment to achieve a street-children free Indonesia by 2017," the minister said during an event, named "Declaration Towards Street-Children Free Indonesia (MIBAJ) by 2017." The event was held at the National Monument (Monas), Central Jakarta, on Nov 28, 2016.
         This was in line with a commitment to achieving the target under the street-children free Indonesia program by 2017.
         In fact, the declaration about the program was made for the first time in 2015, and the latest event was to reiterate that determination.
         Among the ministries involved in the program are the Manpower Ministry, the Education Ministry, the Coordinating Ministry for Cultural and Human Development, and the Health Ministry.

Thursday, December 1, 2016


Jakarta, Dec 1, 2016 (Antara) - Indonesia, the world's largest archipelagic country, is blessed with more than 17 thousand islands, 700 tribes, and over 1,100 different local languages and dialects.
         Although over 80 percent of its population of more than 250 million comprises Muslims. People having different faiths such as Christians, Hindus, and Buddhists, have been living here in harmony for many decades.
         "Our diversity is God's gift that we must all be grateful for. This is also our strength and we can boast about it to other countries. Though we have a lot of diversity, we remain united," President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) said while speaking before young members of Indonesia's second largest Muslim organization, Muhammadiyah, in Banten, on Nov 30.
         The country's founding fathers have been very wise in choosing "Bhinneka Tunggal Ika," or Unity in Diversity as the national motto.
         To celebrate the diversity and unity of the nation, a peaceful assembly called United Nusantara (Archipelago) was organized simultaneously at the National Monument (Monas) in Jakarta, and in other cities across the country, on Nov 30.
         The assembly, aimed at strengthening the sense of unity and integrity of the nation, witnessed the participation of thousands of people that included prominent religious figures, ulemas, students, musicians, youth and other elements of the nation.   
     The Commander of the Indonesian Defense Forces (TNI), General Gatot Nurmantyo, and Chief of the Indonesian Police, General Tito Karnavian, attended the gathering which was also called a 'roll call.'


 Jakarta, Dec 1, 2016 (Antara)- World AIDS Day is held on the 1st December each year and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV, and to commemorate people who have died.
        Held for the first time in 1988, World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day,  aimed at raising awareness of AIDS epidemic, according to information on
        Despite the virus only being identified in 1984, more than 35 million people have died of HIV or AIDS, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history.   
    An estimated 34 million people have the virus globally.
         The theme of World AIDS Day this year is "Hands Up For #HIVPrevention," which is highlighting how HIV prevention needs to be re-invigorated as a crucial part of efforts to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.
         Prevention programs that include  providing HIV information, condom distribution and outreach to young people and key populations, are often the first entry point for individuals to HIV testing and treatment.
          In Indonesia, the commemoration of World AIDS Day was centered in Surabaya, that has the highest number of HIV virus infection in the country.
         "East Java is a province with high rate of HIV infection, along with Jakarta, Papua, West and Central Java," Indonesia's Health Minister Nila F Moeloek said while leading the function in Surabaya, East Java, on Dec 1.