Monday, September 29, 2014

Indonesia Needs Social-Media Strategy to Counter Militants, Report Says

By Ben Otto

Indonesia—Indonesia's incoming government needs to develop a social-media strategy to counter the influence of Islamic militants in the Southeast Asian nation, a new report says.

Indonesia's counterterrorism forces have been weak in using social media to counter extremism and they need to "rethink a strategy for counter-radicalisation," the Jakarta-based research organization Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict said in a report released Wednesday on Islamic State's links to Indonesia, which is the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation.

Earlier this week, a convicted terrorist at a maximum-security prison off the coast of Indonesia's main island of Java released an Indonesian-language translation of an Islamic State call to kill Westerners and allies of the U.S.-led coalition against the militant group, the institute said. Supporters posted it on a local radical website within 24 hours, the institute said. 

"Incendiary teachings" and propaganda promoting Islamic State have been online for more than a year, said the institute, a research organization based in Jakarta. Radicals in Indonesia have been able to post writings on websites and videos on YouTube, including one urging Indonesians to join jihad in Syria.

Agus Rianto, a spokesman for the National Police, said counterterrorism forces "continue to work with related [institutions] to handle this, including with the ministries of information and law, to stop this."
Indonesia, a country of 250 million people where more than 85% of the population identifies as Muslim, has long enjoyed a reputation as a stronghold for moderate Islam. Both government and mainstream Islamic leaders have denounced Islamic State and its sympathizers in Indonesia. 

The government of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono this month called for a number of measures to fight Islamic State's influence in Indonesia, including better monitoring of jailed terrorists and heightened scrutiny of travel to the Mideast.

"The Indonesian government has reacted more forcefully to the appearance of Islamic State than to any other extremist movement in memory and so has the mainstream Muslim community," the institute said.
Mr. Yudhoyono steps down next month and will be replaced by President-elect Joko Widodo. The latter has yet to lay out a detailed plan for counterterrorism efforts during his five-year term.

The institute said Indonesians continue to leave for Syria, where they have in recent months considered creating a fighting unit with counterparts from Malaysia. A union could create better connections and a shared strategy among radicals in the neighboring countries once they return home, the report said.
The fighting unit "could become the vanguard for a fighting force that would reach into Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines," it added.

Estimates vary on the number of Indonesian extremists in Syria. Indonesian antiterrorism forces put the number in the dozens, while the institute suggests it is more than 100.

Islamic State emerged from the Syrian civil war as the strongest extremist group fighting the government regime. Over the past year, the group's militants claimed control of patches of eastern Syria and then moved into Iraq, where they have taken control of several cities, including Mosul, the country's second largest.
The group has long distinguished itself from other militant Islamist groups in its pursuit of a statelike emirate—a caliphate—that would seek to realize a unified Islamic nation.

Indonesia has waged a largely successful war on Islamic extremism in recent years. It shut down the most dangerous groups since bombings on the island of Bali in 2002 killed more than 200 people, most of them tourists. 

The government worries that remnants of those groups, which today wage limited small-arms attacks on police forces, could find new inspiration and funding in connection with Islamic State fighting overseas.

This article originally appeared 25 September in the Wall Street Journal.

New posts this week: State gvt closure of WA Trade Office in Jkt; Local election bill cements democratic regression; More hearts and minds being lost to militancy

Selamat datang teman teman, tolong menikmat blog yang baru:

Last week the Indonesia Institute was surprised to discover that the Western Australia government decided to close the WA Trade Office in Jakarta. This is a significant blow for Indonesia-Australia business relations and the hard work put in on by both sides to create strong links within industry and to support each other in future planning. Indonesia is one of our most important trading partners and instead of being able to cooee from the back fence we now have to get Austrade to ring the doorbell. Editor

Read what our members had to say about the news.

"WA's Jakarta trade office to close: Business community 'should have been consulted'," by David Weber.

"Scotland: Indonesia is watching," by Catriona Croft-Cusworth. Now that direct elections have been stymied, there is a slim to none chance of a vote for West Papuan self-determination.

"Indonesia needs social media strategy to counter militants, report says," by Ben Otto.

The threat of spreading militancy is an ever present danger in South East Asia.

Extra reading:

Indonesia's legislature recently got rid of direct elections, ensuring another Joko Widodo is unlikely to appear again. Critics are understandably outraged and view the move as a painful kick in the teeth in the tug of war to establish a strong democracy. Even worse, observers say Prabowo's master plan will see this democratic regression extended into autocracy as he sets the stage for three years of obstacles and mud slinging to befoul Jokowi's term and force him out. The end game is of course - direct presidential elections.

Indonesians can no longer elect their local representatives after a bill was passed to abolish direct elections.

Attack on Jokowi leaves democracy on a precipice.

Elizabeth Pisani is rightly concerned that the big wigs chose to give themselves exclusive voting rights in local elections.

The Jakarta Globe has taken a stand once more, condeming the bill.

Prabowo's Masterplan

Scotland: Indonesia is watching

By Catriona Crotf-Cusworth

The day before Scotland voted in its independence referendum last week, West Papuan activist Benny Wenda addressed a Yes campaign crowd in Glasgow, saying that he hoped his people would one day get the same chance at self-determination.

'I hope the Indonesian government will allow my people to vote on their own future, like you here today,' he told the cheering crowd.

Wenda, who lives in exile in the UK, said he wanted to witness and take inspiration from Scotland's referendum. Of course, what he ended up witnessing was Scotland choosing to stay with the UK, with a 55-percent vote for No. The result will surely be taken as a blow to Wenda's 'Free West Papua' campaign, along with other independence movements around the world. However, it's not entirely discouraging for the cause of self-determination in West Papua and elsewhere.

The Jakarta Post noted in an editorial over the weekend that Scotland's peaceful referendum showed Indonesia that in a democracy, 'there are civilized ways of dealing with independence aspirations other than treating them as a security threat', such as respecting cultural differences, engaging in meaningful dialogue, and devolving certain powers to the regions to give them more direct control over their assets and development.

West Papuan aspirations for independence have been framed as a security threat since the territory was brought under Indonesian administration in 1963. A promised referendum on independence in 1969 turned into the widely criticised 'Act of Free Choice', which offered the vote to only 1026 selected local leaders, many of whom are reported to have been coerced into voting for Indonesian rule. 

Since then, both armed and civil movements for West Papuan independence have been violently suppressed by Indonesian military and police. Despite being home to Indonesia's biggest gold and copper mine, the province still struggles with poor infrastructure and social support, as well as high rates of poverty. It has become a 'no-go zone' for foreign media wanting to report on political and human rights issues.

With a change in Indonesia's government this year, there is hope that the situation in West Papua will improve. Incoming president Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo has pledged to actively engage with West Papua and improve conditions there as a priority of his presidency. He has stopped short of promising discussions on independence for the province, telling local media that 'the most important thing is delivering prosperity to the people'.
Independence activists like Wenda may not agree that prosperity can quench the thirst for self-determination, a sentiment that Indonesians, as inheritors of a hard-fought battle against colonial rule, should be able to understand. However, as in Scotland, there are plenty of others who believe that Indonesia and West Papua are 'better together'. The Republic of Indonesia is founded on the 'Unity in Diversity' of 17,000 islands, 34 provinces and about 300 different ethnic groups. The 'civilized ways of dealing with independence aspirations' mentioned by the Jakarta Post apply equally to all provinces, regardless of whether they have intentions to separate from the state. Respect, dialogue and power-sharing will go a long way in keeping Indonesia intact.

One bargaining chip used by the Indonesian Government to keep dissenting regions from fracturing the unity of the state has been to grant various levels of autonomy. Since the end of the Suharto era, Indonesians have been able to directly elect their regional leaders, as part of a push for decentralisation of governance. However, a law now being discussed in the House of Representatives (DPR) threatens to put an end to that, by handing the authority from the people over to regional legislative councils (DPRDs), as in Suharto's time.
Departing president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has finally put his weight behind Jokowi's coalition to oppose the bill, which is being pushed by the 'Red-and-White' coalition of losing presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto. Yudhoyono's party has nonetheless put forward a 10-point amendment addressing the major failings of the direct election system, such as widespread vote-buying, inefficient campaign funding and the emergence of 'little kings' in the regions.

In a time when Indonesia is still consolidating its democracy, backtracking on decentralisation reforms would be an unwise move. As the case of Scotland shows, sticking together involves a negotiation of identity, dialogue and power. Despite its flaws, the mechanism of direct regional elections in Indonesia is a platform for that negotiation. With strong institutions, it can also become a self-correcting process, supporting democratic reform from the centre to the regions.

Wenda and other independence activists around the world must surely be disappointed by the outcome of Scotland's referendum. But if there is a lesson to be found for Indonesia and elsewhere, it is that state unity is a constant process of negotiation that finds its strength in shared freedom, not oppression.

This article originally appeared 24 September in the Lowy Interpreter.

Members comments on closure of WA Trade Office in Jakarta

Indonesia Institute members are a diverse group of people with Indo-Aus ties. Our business community was taken aback by the recent decision to bow out of a 21 year presence in Jakarta.

"The Indonesia Institute shares the deep concerns expressed by AIBC Chairman, Philip Turtle and also expresses disappointment that the government has chosen not to seek comments from - or consult with - the business community before making this decision.

"This decision comes only a few weeks before the inauguration of Indonesia's new president Joko Widodo."

"We understand that the WA Government intends to hand over the responsibility for WA trade to the Federal Government through Austrade, so it is hard to understand how this arrangement would assist WA businesses wanting to gain entry to this exciting and very large market."

"We understand that although the WA Indonesia trade office will be closed, the WA government will retain all other overseas trade offices including the large London Office that operates at a cost to WA taxpayers of around six times that of the Indonesia office which is staffed by one expat and a local administration officer."

Ross B Taylor AM
President, Indonesia Institute

“This office has been in operation for many years, and is a vital resource for Western Australian businesses that currently operate in Indonesia, as well as those that seek to pursue the emerging opportunities in this rapidly growin economy."

The Trade Office is also key to the various and regular businesses and government delegations and Trade Missions that visit not just Jakarta but many important centres throughout the archipelago."

Phil Turtle
Western Australia Chariman, Australia Indonesia Business Centre (AIBC)


"I read with incredulity of the planned closure of the State Government's trade office in Jakarta ('Indonesia WA office exit stuns watchers,' 27-28 September). Ross Taylor, of the Indonesia Institute, is correct when he points out that our nearest northern neighbour is destined to have one of the world's largest economies and the market opportunities there are enormous."

"This shortsighted, penny-pinching, and frankly dumb decision makes no sense whatsoever. 'Zero out of ten in economic management', for the people who suggested and/or agreed to this decision."

Roy Stall
Mount Claremont WA 6010

"We should not just accept this decision but it is important to contact Premier and Agriculture minister [about this matter]."

"Singapore is not the same as Jakarta in terms of doing business in Indonesia."

Alan Eggleston-Former Federal Senator.

"Just goes to show how out of touch the (WA) government is!"

"This would have come from a security risk assessment in light of the recent increase in terrorism alert.
This is the exactly how the terrorist want us to respond! Stop trading, inject fear and have the western world running with our tail between out legs!"

Todd Shone
Adelaide SA

"This is indeed shocking news"

"Are they serious with this news... Well... It's really bad message for Jakarta and for the new government... As I see it Western Australia is exactly taking the opposite direction to what others are excitingly doing in Indonesia."

Agus - Jakarta

WA's Jakarta trade office to close: Business community 'should have been consulted'

By David Weber

A decision by the Western Australian Government to close its trade office in Jakarta has left many in the business community surprised. 

The president of the Perth-based Indonesia Institute, Ross Taylor, was told of the closure by the ABC. 

Mr Taylor said there should have been more consultation before the Government decided to wind back its presence in Jakarta.

"We take it by some surprise because neither our institute, or as I understand it, the Australia Indonesia Business Council knows anything about this decision," he said.

"From the business community, it would be a little bit disappointing because it would have been I think better had some consultation process be taken with various organisations, just to ensure that we don't forfeit some enormous opportunities in developing business and trade." 

Mr Taylor said while Indonesia is Western Australia's biggest customer for live exports and wheat, there are also emerging opportunities in education, health and finance.
"West Australian relationships with Indonesia are at a very critical stage and are really sitting on the precipice if you like of absolutely enormous opportunities, not only within agriculture but a whole range of businesses including infrastructure, finance, medical and education," he said.

In as statement, the WA Government said that even though the office was closing, there would still be full-time representation in the Indonesian capital.

It is understood this may occur out of the Austrade office. 

Labor's spokesperson for trade Kate Doust said business was best conducted face to face.
"Particularly in a country like Indonesia, people like to actually get to know who they're dealing with and building that relationship," she said. 

"It's certainly good for our people to be able to see what sort of products or opportunities are available, it's not something that can be done online or over the phone, this is about building relationships to do business."

This article originally appeared 27 September in ABC News online.