Wednesday, August 29, 2018

1) Polish Man Arrested After Allegedly Trying To Film Papuan Armed Groups

2) Indonesia: running mates spark controversy
3) Too early to judge new Aust regime approach to Pacific - Batley
1) Polish Man Arrested After Allegedly Trying To Film Papuan Armed Groups
Indonesia Expat Aug 29, 2018

A Polish citizen is currently in custody with police in Papua over his alleged attempt to film what the Indonesian Military (TNI) claims was a planned “ammunition trade” between two armed groups in the restive province.
The Pole, identified only as JF, 39, was arrested on his way to the location of the handover at Habema Lake in Jayawijaya last Friday, according to the police.
172/PWY Military Command commander Col. Inf. J. Binsar P. Sianipar told reporters on Wednesday that his personnel had found indications that he was linked to an armed group.
“He had communicated with the armed group, and that day he was going to Habema Lake to cover the sale of hundreds of rounds of ammunition,” he said, adding that the suspect had been planning to expose the event to the world.
Binsar said JF had come to Indonesia on a tourist visa and had visited Raja Ampat in West Papua. “It is reprehensible that [he] entered Indonesia using a tourist visa but is also engaging in another activity—building relations with armed groups.”
Jayawijaya Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Yan Piet Reba told The Jakarta Post that the ammunition transaction was between an armed group operating in Wamena and another group from Puncak Jaya.
“JF was planning to go to Habema Lake, where representatives of the armed group from Puncak Jaya were waiting to buy the ammunition,” he said.
Police have questioned four people linked to the case.
“Three people have been sent to the Papua Police, one is a Polish national and the other two are locals,” Yan Piet said.
Source: Jakarta Post
Photo courtesy of

2) Indonesia: running mates spark controversy
BY Greta Nabbs-Keller
28 August 2018 06:00 AEDT

The confirmation by President Joko (Jokowi) Widodo’s of conservative Islamic cleric Ma’ruf Amin as running mate for the April 2019 presidential contest evoked disappointment among constituencies in Indonesia committed to democracy and pluralism.
Interpreted as a forced compromise, a Jokowi-Ma’ruf ticket certainly acts as a buffer against conservative Islamic opposition, but it by no means guarantees Jokowi an election victory. Economic issues above religious ones are likely to be a key point of vulnerability for Jokowi in the presidential campaign. 
Ma’ruf’s record of sowing division and intolerance in his capacity as Chair of the Council of Indonesian Ulema (MUI) has caused concern among non-Muslim segments of Indonesia’s population and more liberal political circles, concerned about their country’s increasingly divisive politics. Critics of Jokowi’s decision have pointed to Ma’ruf’s propensity to legitimise violence and discrimination against minorities and political opponents as leader of MUI, an increasingly obscurantist, national body of Islamic scholars.
Ma’ruf stems from Indonesia’s largest mass Muslim organisation, Nahdhlatul Ulama, whose former leader and Indonesia’s fourth president, Abdurrahman Wahid (Gus Dur), was a respected a champion of pluralism and democratic ideals. Ma’ruf, however, strays far from Gus Dur’s enlightened traditions.
Under Ma’ruf’s leadership MUI has issued fatwas against Muslim minority sects Ahmadiyah and Shia, which have served to sanction violence and discrimination against them. Similarly, an October 2016 MUI fatwa declaring that incumbent ethnic Chinese Jakarta governor, Basuki Tjahjaja (Ahok) Purnama had insulted the Quran, was a legitimating factor in the mobilisation of sectarian and racially-charged Islamic opposition against him.

Ma’ruf’s previous actions have been rightly interpreted as the triumph of conservative Islamic values over Indonesia’s pluralist and democratic norms. But in a pragmatic sense Ma’ruf’s confirmation undoubtedly adds to Jokowi’s legitimacy in the eyes of conservative Muslim constituents. It also affords Jokowi somewhat of a bulwark against Islamic-based opposition used to such devastating effect against Ahok, Jakarta’s former governor. Many will recall in both the 2014 presidential election and to a lesser extent, in the Jakarta gubernatorial election, how doubt was sown about Jokowi’s ethnicity and religion by opportunistic and radical opponents.
Meanwhile, confirmation from the challenger Prabowo Subianto that incumbent deputy Jakarta governor, Sandiaga Uno, would run as his vice presidential candidate also caused consternation, not least for Partai Demokrat (PD) chair, former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY). SBY was understood to have clinched a deal for his son, 40 year old former Army Major, Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono (AHY) to run with Prabowo in return for PD joining Prabowo’s Greater Indonesia Movement (Gerindra)-led opposition coalition. 
Shock within PD ranks was followed by allegations that Uno, one of Indonesia’s wealthiest men, had used his considerable largesse to secure the vice presidential ticket. Uno had allegedly paid considerable sums to the Justice and Prosperity Party (PKS) to remain in, and to the National Mandate Party (PAN) to switch, to, the opposition coalition. PAN, the political vehicle of Indonesia’s second largest Islamic mass organisation, Muhammadiyah, had until 10 August been part of Jokowi’s governing coalition.

Uno’s joint Sumatran and Sulawesi ancestry means he appeals to a voter base beyond Java, but undoubtedly Uno’s main political utility for Prabowo is his wealth. Uno is understood to be one of the key financiers behind Gerindra’s-coordinated opposition to Ahok during the 2016-2017 Jakarta gubernatorial contest.In the months leading up to the vice presidential announcement there was speculation that Prabowo would not run again due to denuded campaign resources. The 2019 election will be Prabowo’s fourth attempt at the presidency and in securing Uno, Prabowo significantly boosts his campaign coffers. 
The wily political veteran has also managed to retain PD in his coalition despite SBY’s deep disappointment with the decision. No doubt, AHY has been promised political rewards in a key cabinet post, following in his father’s footsteps. With 10.19% of the national vote in the 2014 legislative elections, PD’s entry into the opposition coalition along with PAN at 7.59%, strengthens Prabowo’s chances.
Unless Indonesia’s economy significantly improves, Jokowi’s incumbency gives the rival Prabowo-Uno ticket the natural advantage on economic issues. Indonesia’s economic prospects over the next eight months to the April 2019 first run-off are far from certain, particularly given recent developments in emerging markets. Turkey’s currency slide has buffeted the Rupiah and the uncertainty of Trump’s “trade wars” still have a way to play out on global economies, including Indonesia’s. 
Jokowi’s ambitious infrastructure agenda, moreover, lends him vulnerable to Prabowo’s strident economic nationalism and anti-Chinese inclinations. Prabowo understands that many Indonesians are uneasy about perceived Chinese dominance over the economy, expressed in negative sentiment toward Indonesia’s ethnic Chinese and in Beijing’s generous investment in Indonesia’s infrastructure projects.
Moreover, resentment toward Chinese workers in particular, is becoming more apparent, fanned by perceptions of a “flood” of illegal Chinese labour and online fearmongering. If Indonesia's economy slides, it will boost Prabowo’s chances with an electorate suspicious about foreign control and erosion of economic sovereignty. 
Disappointing for some, the vice presidential picks are insightful in what they reveal about Indonesia’s contemporary politics. Indonesia’s secular-based parties must now edge to the religious right in order to become more electable; a significant shift over the last 20 years, where it was previously the conservative Islamic parties forced to the centre. The presidential-vice presidential tickets also illustrate how the distribution of largesse determines elite coalition formation and senior political appointment. Another disappointment for those who hoped that democratisation would diminish rent-seeking behaviour and instil greater integrity within Indonesia’s political and institutions. 
But in the end, Jokowi’s fate may be contingent upon external factors largely outside the cauldron of Indonesia’s domestic politics. For despite growing Islamic conservatism, Indonesia’s voters, like many others around the world, are usually impelled by economic considerations above religious ones.
Notwithstanding unanticipated shocks and disjuncture, the economy will continue to be Jokowi’s key point of political vulnerability despite high personal approval ratings. Expect another dirty campaign based on a populist narrative of economic nationalism and anti-Chinese sentiment.


3) Too early to judge new Aust regime approach to Pacific - Batley
about 1 hour ago 

A commentator on Pacific issues says it's disappointing but not surprising that Australia's new prime minister won't be attending the Pacific Islands Forum in Nauru.

Australia's incoming Foreign Affairs Minister, Marise Payne, will be attending the Forum instead of Scott Morrison - as her first international engagement.
Former diplomat turned academic, James Batley, says it's not unexpected that Mr Morrison isn't going and he thinks other Forum members will be understanding.
"For a brand new prime minister, I think there's a lot of pressing domestic concerns and I have to say I'm just not surprised that he's taken that decision and there's plenty of precedent for this - it's a rare forum meeting when all the leaders are able to turn up."
Mr Batley, who is part of Australian National University's Department of Pacific Affairs, also said it's too early to say whether the government's decision to drop the role of International Development and Pacific Minister had any real significance.
As part of Scott Morrison's reshuffle, the portfolio no longer had a minister and has instead been given what's called an 'assistant minister' - also known as a parliamentary secretary.
Australia's Labor Party called the move a downgrade, saying it sends a signal to Pacific nations about how little Australia cares about the region.

However Mr Batley warned against reading too much into the change of position.
"What really counts in that position is firstly the personality of the minister or the assistant minister, how well they interact with Pacific Islanders, but also, and really importantly, how much freedom they're given by the Foreign Minister," he said.
Mr Batley said he suspected there might be a bit of "political mischief making on the part of the Opposition" by saying the move represented a downgrade.
"In formal terms, yes it does, but really I think the assistant minister will speak with all the authority of the Australian government.
"It's going to depend on what level of decision making the Foreign Minister allows her to make, and how she actually performs in the field."
The new assistant minister for International Development and the Pacific is Anne Ruston.
She will report to incoming Foreign Affairs Minister, Marise Payne.
Mr Batley said Ms Payne had a long-standing interest in foreign affairs issues.
"She's not starting from scratch. I think she'll bring a real interest, a personal interest, to the portfolio."
Whereas, Mr Batley said the vast amount of Ms Ruston's experience had been in domestic portfolios.
"She's been in Parliament for half a dozen years now from South Australia, but she has represented Australia at a couple of meetings at the Forum Fisheries Agency, but really you would have to say that she is pretty much starting from scratch when it comes to I think both the Pacific and the aid programme."
Ms Ruston told ABC Adelaide she had "no idea" why she had been given the role, but said it was a "very exciting new challenge”.

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