Thursday, November 19, 2009

Tesco & Walmart to Enter Indonesia

For full story please visit the original source: VIVA News

VIVAnews – The modern national retail market will be penetrated by two retail giants, UK-based Tesco and US-based Walmart. The foreign penetration in the retail sector is seen improving according to the Indonesian Association of Retailers (Aprindo) chairperson Benjamin J. Mailool.

“We cannot limit the foreign players to enter our retail sector and this trend is inevitable,” he said in Jakarta on Tuesday nught, Nov. 17.

Walmart and Tesco have listed Indonesia as one of the important destination countries for their future investments. “It is a matter of time [since] Indonesia is now seen as [an expansion destination] for them,” he said.

Mailool predicted that Walmart and Tesco will enter the Indonesian market through merger system. “If they directly set up new [outlets], it will be difficult,” he said.

A-to-Z of all that's good in Bali

For full story please visit the original source: The West Australian

While never being a fully committed card-carrying "I don't do Bali" traveller, Ray Wilson determined that his previous trip to Bali in 1992 might well have been his last.

Recently, however, he gave it one more shot - and this is what he discovered in his A-to-Z re-awakening.

Accents: Isn't it funny, the only time I get irritated with the Aussie drawl is when a foreigner tries it on. Remember Meryl Streep playing Lindy Chamberlain in Evil Angels? Terrible. Unfortunately in the back lanes of Kuta and Legian in particular, some of the local store holders bark entreaties in an accent broader than any you'd find in Meekatharra. But I'm told that to be teased in Bali is to be accepted, so maybe I've read it wrong.

…………………..

Zebra crossings: They exist in Bali and on the major roads around the Kuta strip to Seminyak, but don't bet your life on the road rules bearing any semblance to ours. The worst drivers in Bali are young Australians on scooters or motorbikes. Mad Max and Casey Stoner all rolled into one. And, it's not as if the police are there as any great deterrent. One driver told us that it was compulsory to wear seatbelts in cars - there are none in backseats of cabs - and while the fine was around $120 in a court, the "pocket" fine was only $12. Enough said.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Garuda Invited to Resume Flights to the U.S.A.

For full story & graphics please visit the original source: Bali Discovery

-F.A.A. Offers Technical Assistance to Indonesian Government and Garuda to Help Restart Flight Service to the U.S. West Coast.

Bisnis Indonesia reports that the U.S. Government has invited Garuda Indonesia to re-open its long-abandoned direct flights between the U.S.A. and Indonesia with assistance from the U.S. Federal Aviation Agency (FAA).

Garuda terminated its flights to Los Angeles in mid-1998 that operated on a route that traveled in both directions between Jakarta - Bali - Biak - Honolulu - Los Angeles.

The Minister of Transportation for Indonesia, Freddy Numberi, told the press that the U.S. invitation was delivered by U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia Cameron R. Hume after Indonesian aviation was moved from a cautionary category II rating to the more exemplary category I rating. Said Numberi, "this offer looks to be a good opportunity for Garuda and all of Indonesia."

Friday, November 13, 2009

Indonesia: the price of volatility

For full story & graphics please visit the original source: Trustnet

Indonesia has proved an unlikely investment opportunity in the last ten years, or is the real winner volatility?

In the past 12 months the Indonesian index returned 107.24 per cent. Compare that with MSCI Thailand returning 53.33 per cent, MSCI Singapore 49.95 per cent, and MSCI Malaysia 46.66 per cent.

But, before betting the farm on this market rather than its neighbours or the typical portfolio core of UK equities and fixed income, it is worthwhile taking a look at what level of volatility investors were required to put up with in order to achieve such returns. Over the past three years this has clearly been the case.

Financial Express data suggests annual volatility for the MSCI Indonesia index was 42.68 per cent, set against an annual return of 22.95 per cent.

Compare that with the far lower volatility of 20.46 per cent for MSCI Malaysia against annual return of 19.85 – ie, not far off its neighbour. However, over the past decade Indonesia has still done better on this basis. Annual return averaged 14.22 per cent with volatility of 38.53 per cent, against return of 2.3 per cent and volatility of 28.27 per cent for Malaysia.

Thus, one could argue that the long term investor in the country has not necessarily had to take on much more risk in order to get superior returns against other markets nearby.

Unfortunately, it is not all that easy to buy into the country via country specific funds – beyond exposure gained through broader regionally focused ones.

Filtering out those with less than a 50 per cent weighting to the country leaves just seven to consider. One of these is Aberdeen’s US listed closed ended Indonesia fund, which came to it by way of the purchase of Credit Suisse assets earlier this year.

What is noteable is investors will have to look to the offshore funds universe. Ignoring the country on that basis would, though, be missing a number of points. Indonesia is one of the world’s most populous countries; it is next door to one of the strongest growing OECD members – Australia, which raised interest rates for the second time in two months last week – and serves as a resources provider for big importers such as China. The country’s GDP is projected by the IMF to grow 4 per cent in real terms through 2009, and 4.8 per cent in 2010.

Dhananjay Phadnis, manager of the Fidelity Indonesia fund, outlined two key changes in a recent note. The currency has appreciated, helped in part by rating agency Moody's upgrade to the country's sovereign debt by one notch to Ba2. The other was the re-elected government taking office in October, with promises of employment generation and infrastructure development leading Phadnis to increase real estate exposure.

"The Indonesian stock market does not look cheap in the Asian context, however, the lowering of input prices due to a strong rupiah and a recovery in demand will likely provide scope for earnings to surprise on the upside when companies report their third quarter performance," Phadnis wrote.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

When It's Easy to Get Credit Cards in Indonesia

Original source: Kompas.com

The value of stagnant credit or non-performing loan (NPL) for credit cards is still high. Based on the Indonesian Banking Statistics (SPI), the value of credit card NPL per September 2009 is Rp. 2.95 trillion, or 8.7 percent of the total outstanding credit that reaches Rp 33.63 trillion.

Since July 2009, the credit card NPL value has seemed reluctant to go below 8 percent. Per August, the NPL ratio was still 8.8 percent with the value of Rp. 2.89 trillion and total credit of Rp. 32.82 trillion.

Business Director of PT Bank UOB, Buana Safrullah Hadi Saleh said, the high NPL for credit cards is due to banks being more aggressive in persuading customers to use credit cards. "This is evident from the ease of the process to issue a new credit card. Sometimes without selecting the customer," he said.

According to Safrullah, the NPL ratio for credit cards that exceeds 8 percent is a warning for banks to be more careful in issuing new credit cards, "The normal NPL for credit cards should be around 7 to 8 percent," said Safrullah.

Mansyur S. Nasution, Executive Vice President for Consumer Credit of Mandiri Bank, affirmed Safrullah's opinion. "If the credit card NPL was lower, banks would be safer. The credit card business then could run better," he said.

Though the NPL value as stated by SPI is still high, our interviewed banker stated that the NPL in their establishment is low. In Mandiri Bank for instance, Mansyur said that the NPL ratio per September 2009 is only 2.74 percent.

Meanwhile, UOB Buana, having issued 170,000 Platinum credit cards, confessed that their NPL ranges from 3 to 4 percent. "Most of our customers can still fulfill their obligations," said Safrullah.

The same goes for Citibank that has issued 1.6 million credit cards in Indonesia. Citibank Country Marketing Head, Rico Frans, stated the bank had not seen any increase on NPL.

"Our NPL is still in the low single digit and still stable since last April," he stated. Strict requirements for credit cards and annual debtors' review are the keys to suppress credit card NPL

Can Indonesia's "Hamburger King" topple McDonald's?

For full story please visit the original source: GlobalPost/ Sara Schonhardt

Would you buy a burger from a one-eyed pirate named Toni Jack? That's the hope of one Indonesian entrepreneur, whose roguish answer to Ronald McDonald also claims his burgers are “better than that one.”

The slogan is Bambang Rachmadi’s attempt to differentiate his new brand from the world’s largest hamburger chain – a company he held majority rights to until McDonald’s sold his stake in March.

Bambang, the self-described hamburger king of Indonesia, claims he was not notified of the sale of his $135 million in assets, which a company spokeswoman described as “personal." He is pursuing legal action against the corporate behemoth.

In the meantime, Bambang has transformed his 13 owner-operated McDonald’s into Toni Jack’s, a step he said was necessary to save the jobs of about 800 employees.

So last month, a McDonald's in central Jakarta disappeared under a black tarp with the Tony Jack’s logo: a pirate whose hat bears a burger crossed by a fork and spoon.

The 97 McDonald’s restaurants that remain in Indonesia now belong to sole franchisee PT Sinar Sosro, producers of the country’s leading bottled tea brand. Sinar Sosro says it aims to open as many as 75 new restaurants over the next five years, which helps sweeten the new partnership

Toni Jack’s has continued that approach with a menu that — despite the lack of halal labeling — is nearly identical to McDonald’s. But according to company spokeswoman Tetty Hutapea, the taste is "different."

“The meat is not good, and there are fewer choices for burgers,” said Aouini Nabil, a security guard from Paris, while poking at the remains of the chicken burger on his tray. His fiance Rento Utami said Toni Jack’s seemed to draw fewer customers, particularly teenagers and tourists.

A Spanish Embassy worker who entered the restaurant thinking it was still McDonald’s said he was surprised by the change but decided to give Toni Jack’s a try because he was short on time. Although he finished his burger, he said the taste was "not great."

Others were more positive about the switch. Fransesko Laban, an employee with an international NGO, stayed to do some work after finishing his Chicken Jack meal. He said he prefers Toni Jack’s to McDonald’s because it is clean and smoke free.

Bambang also plans to open several new branches in the year ahead, with a goal to franchise the restaurant to other countries in 2014.

For now, spokeswoman Tetty Hutapea said it’s too early to gauge Toni Jack’s sales performance but said that business is “stable.”

The loss of 13 restaurants may not make much of a dent in the global presence of McDonald’s, which operates 31,000 around the world. But it doesn’t do much for the company’s image in a region where it has faced more than one legal tussle recently..

Suzuki to relocate motorcycle plant from Thailand to Indonesia

For full story please visit the original source: Antara News

Japanese automotive company Suzuki plans to relocate its motorcycle plant from Thailand to Indonesia in 2010, citing the huge market as one of its reasons.

"Suzuki originally wanted to develop (motorcycle industry) in Thailand but it later decided to switch to Indonesia," PT Suzuki Indomobil Motor (SIM) President Director Yoshiji Terada said.

The other reasons behind the company`s plan to relocate the plant were that Indonesia had large oil/gas, non-oil/non-gas potentials and high demand for transportation means, he said.

Previously, Terada said the company would raise its investment in Indonesia by US$50 million to increase its production capacity by 40 percent next year.

PT SIM would also launch at least seven new types of motorcycles, including those of skutic type. But most of the new products would be underbone and backbone motorcycles, he said.

After 5 year absence, Garuda Indonesia returns to Europe

Original source (click to view full story): eTN News

Garuda Indonesia will return to Europe beginning June 1, 2010 after an absence of five years. The introduction of daily services from Jakarta to Amsterdam via Dubai marks a significant step forward in the airline's global network expansion strategy. Amsterdam will be the first of a number of key European cities such as Frankfurt, Paris, and London. Garuda Indonesia has planned for its European expansion over the next few years.

The Amsterdam route will initially be serviced by the airline's fleet of technically advanced A330-200 aircraft, featuring Garuda's new exterior and interior design inspired by the energy of nature's wings. In executive class, the aircraft offers fully-reclining, flat-bed seats with 74-inch seat pitch. The A330-200s will operate in a two-class configuration carrying 222 passengers, with 36 in executive class and 186 in economy class.

Garuda Indonesia currently has 10 Boeing 777-300ERs aircraft on order for delivery commencing 2011, which will then allow the airline to operate non-stop from Jakarta into Europe.

The new A330-200 aircraft features individual touch-screen LCD screens in all classes; the state of art inflight entertainment system with Audio & Video On Demand (AVOD) delivers a choice of 25 feature films, 250 audio tracks, and 25 video games.

Effective from June 1, 2010, the planned schedule is: Garuda (GA88) departing Jakarta (CGK) at 2100 WIB (GA88) arriving Dubai (DXB) at 0209 LT, departing at 0315 LT and arriving in Amsterdam (SPL) at 0800 LT. From Amsterdam (GA 89) departs at 1000 LT, arriving in Dubai at 1830 LT, departing again at 1945 LT and arriving in Jakarta at 0710 WIB. Fares to and from Dubai and Amsterdam will be announced shortly.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Indonesia teen who amputated his leg recalls earthquake ordeal

For full story please visit the original Source: Los Angeles Times/John M. Glionna

Ramlan, who was working in Padang, Sumatra, when the 7.6 quake struck, knew he didn't want to die there. Now a celebrity, he says he merely 'did what I had to do to stay alive.'

Reporting from Galudra, Indonesia - The teenager lay dazed amid the settling dust and debris, his leg trapped by a fallen concrete wall. He sensed that he was going to die. So he made a decision: He would cut off his own limb to save his life. Ignoring the major blood loss, taking deep breaths as he concentrated on the terrible task at hand, the 18-year-old construction worker cut halfway through his right leg just below the kneecap.

Finally, too weak to continue, he begged for help, and a fellow worker finished the job for him in the aftermath of the magnitude 7.6 earthquake that struck Sumatra in September.

"I didn't want to die in that place," said the teenager, who goes by one name, Ramlan. "I did what I had to do to stay alive."

Every disaster delivers its own tales of bravery and superhuman strength. Amid the news reports of his exploits, Ramlan has become a hero across Indonesia, a survivor whose sheer will to live drove him to do the unthinkable.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Indonesia edging closer to securing an investment-grade ratings status

Source (click to view): London Stock Exchange/Reuters

Indonesia, which has seen a flood of foreign investment this year, is edging closer to securing an investment-grade ratings status for the first time since the Asian financial crisis in 1997-1998.

Standard & Poor's on Friday revised its outlook on Indonesia's sovereign debt rating to positive from stable, citing expected improvements in the country's debt profile following economic reforms.

A fund manager at PIMCO said in a report that Indonesia could regain its high-grade status in 3-4 years as long as government policies focus on long-term growth.

An high-grade rating would mean increased investment by funds that, according to their mandate, can only buy high-grade rated debt.

For S&P and Fitch, the lowest investment-grade credit rating before junk is BBB-minus. For Moody's it is Baa3.

History of Indonesia's sovereign debt ratings…(see the source)

SEE ALSO:
S&P ups Indonesia rating outlook to positive – Alibaba News/Reuters
Pimco Says Indonesia May Win Investment Grade Rating - Bloomberg

Friday, October 23, 2009

Indonesia: from basket-case to solid Bric

Source (click to view full story): MoneyWeek

Just over a decade ago, Indonesia was considered "a basket-case", says The Economist. It faced economic collapse after the Asian crisis hammered companies overexposed to foreign-currency debt and caused the banking system to implode. Meanwhile, political chaos also appeared on the cards.

But now Indonesia has become a "stable, largely peaceful" democracy. It is also widely seen as an extra 'I' in the Bric (Brazil, Russia, India and China) group of fast-growing emerging markets. Along with rising global risk appetite, this helps explain why the Jakarta Composite index is Asia's best-performing market this year, up 123% in dollar terms.

Indonesia is helped by the fact that, unlike in most Asian countries, growth is propelled largely by domestic demand – exports comprise just 25% of GDP. This appears to be picking up again, with bank loans up 14.6% year-on-year in July. Sound management over the past few years has also put the economy on a more solid footing.

Keeping a tight lid on spending has helped lower debt quickly: public debt has fallen from 80% in 1999 to just over 30% by the end of last year. Companies have trimmed borrowings too: corporate debt is down from almost 50% of GDP to 15%. Lower debt has also reduced interest rates across the economy, cutting the cost of borrowing to invest.

That bodes well for the long term, and there are further reasons for optimism. Indonesia is resource-rich, with exports including palm oil, cocoa, coffee, coal and oil….

Thursday, October 22, 2009

THE ECONOMIST: Indonesia's new cabinet: Like the last lot

Source: (click to view full assessment): The Economist

Optimism abounded when Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (pictured) was re-elected Indonesian president in July in a landslide. Analysts at home and abroad hoped he would use his strong mandate to appoint a more reform-minded cabinet for his second five-year term. No longer would the former general be beholden to venal political parties. Competent technocrats would take over to drive the nation on, lifting its annual growth rates from an average of 5-6% in his first term to his target of 7%. Boosting optimism, his Democratic Party had soared on his coat-tails to become the biggest party in parliament.

Mr Yudhoyono, however, has been reading a different script. Twenty out of the 37 cabinet-level appointments the president announced on October 21st are from parties that have promised support in parliament. Hardly any of these are seen as experienced managers, let alone competent ones. A conspicuous number have no background relevant to their portfolios.

As in his first five years, the president looks as if he will rely on sound, strong, technocrat-led monetary and fiscal policy and hope it will translate into higher rates of growth. But that did not really happen in the more benign global environment of his first term, so it is hard to see why it should now. Simply muddling along in areas such as infrastructure, education, health, agriculture and mines and energy might keep Indonesia’s economic growth at present, respectable levels. But it is unlikely to help South-East Asia’s largest economy catch up with faster-growing China and India. With luck, the legacy of the Yudhoyono decade may be a strengthened democracy; it seems unlikely to be a transformed economy…
SEE ALSO:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Will SBY Strive for Greatness? Prospects for the Indonesian President's Second Term

Source (click to view full report): PacNet #69 - CSIS Center for Strategic and International Studies

By Alphonse F. La Porta

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, familiarly known as SBY, will be inaugurated for a second term on Oct. 20, 2009. As the first democratically elected president and the first to be elected to a second term, SBY has opportunities that no other Indonesian leader has had. Yudhoyono can achieve greatness in domestic and international terms and lead his country into a new era of committed democracy.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

SBY inaugurated

Source (click to view full story): Xinhua News

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was sworn in for his second term of 2009-2014 in a respect inauguration ceremony attended by several friendly heads of states and foreign country special envoys.

Vice President Boediono was also sworn in the ceremony, which was chaired by the Upper House's chairman Taufik Kiemas and attended by 647 members of the institution.

Following the opening speech, an official from the General Elections Commission read the agency's ruling related to the result of the elections.

"We decided that the pair of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono achieved 73,874,562 votes or 60.80 percent of total 121,504,581 votes," said the official.

As part of the inauguration ceremony, Yudhoyono and Boediono took oaths as president and vice president.

"For God's sake, I swear that I will do my jobs as best and fair as possible. I will strongly conduct mandate from the 1945 Constitution and other rules and I will be loyal to the nation and the country," said Yudhoyono.

The oath was followed by Vice President Boediono with the same sentences.

After signing the official report of the inauguration, Yudhoyono gave his speech as the president for his second term of 2009-2014…

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Indonesian president confirms coalition of rival party

Source (click to view): Xinhua News

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono confirmed that his rival party in the presidential election, the Golkar Party, has joined coalition of political parties that support him in his second term ending in 2014, local media reported here Thursday.

Speaking in a press conference held in his private residence in Cikeas, West Java, on Wednesday night, the president said he has received the pledge of Golkar Party's newly-elected Chairman Aburizal Bakrie to stay in the cabinet and coalesce with Susilo's Democratic Party in the parliament.

"As of tonight our coalition has consisted of six parties," he was quoted by the Jakarta Post as saying.

The parties he mentioned include the Democratic Party, the Golkar Party, the National Mandate Party (PAN), the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), the United Development Party (PPP) and the National Awakening Party (PKB).

The president said he was yet to receive coalition commitment from the other rivaling political parties in the July 8 presidential election.

"I respect the PDIP (Indonesia Democratic Party of Struggle), Gerindra (Great Indonesia Movement Party) and Hanura (People's Conscience Party), who have chosen not to coalesce with us, though I heard not all of them will become an opposition," he said.

With the support of six political parties, the president camp in the parliament would occupy 422 of the 560 seats in the parliament.

Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is scheduled to be sworn in as Indonesia president for the period of 2009 - 2014 on Oct. 20. He will announce his cabinet members on Oct. 21.

SEE ALSO:
Indonesia's Democratic Party secures 3 chairmanships of 11 commissions in parliament – People’s Daily

Indonesia's IT competitiveness rating down

Source (click to view): Xinhua News

Of 66 countries across the world, Indonesia's Information Technology (IT) competitiveness rating downed to 59 this year from 58 last year, according to the result of a survey released here on Wednesday (Oct 14).

The result of the survey, that was carried out by Economist Intelligent Unit (EIU) and Business Software Alliance (BSA), also disclosed that Indonesia only obtained an index score of 22.8 in the survey, made it ranked at number 15 in the Asia Pacific region.

"The index score of most Asia Pacific countries were apparently down if compared to the scores they obtained last year," Claro Parlede, BSA Software Policy Director for Asia Pacific region was quoted by the Detik.com as saying.

Australia, Singapore, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea were regarded the most IT competitive in the Asia Pacific region, the survey result said.

With index score of 68.7, the United States still tops the rank in the survey that has been conducted in the last three years.

Top hotels gain accolades at Wotif Group's first Indonesia Hotel Awards in Bali

Source: (click to view): eTravel Balckboard, and www.Wotif.com

Wotif Group, operator of leading online travel brands in the Asia Pacific region, last Friday (9 October 2009) held their inaugural Indonesia Hotel Awards in popular island destination, Bali.

Set to be held annually, the Wotif Group Indonesia Hotel Awards aim to recognise top hotel partners who have attracted the most travellers through the Group's accommodation sites - Wotif.com, AsiaWebDirect.com and LateStays.com - in the past twelve months. The Awards ceremony was a resounding success, with over 60 hoteliers and hotel executives gathered at a champagne breakfast event at the Oceans 27 boutique lounge on Kuta's beachfront to celebrate the successes of their peers.

Sii Eawsakul, Wotif Group's Executive General Manager for Asia, said, "Despite turbulent events in recent months, Indonesia, with Bali in particular, is a highly resilient market with great growth potential. We are thrilled at this opportunity to demonstrate our confidence in the country's travel industry, and our appreciation for our hotel partners."

"Indonesia remains a key growth market for Wotif Group, and we are set to ramp up our presence in the country with the opening of a new office in Bali very soon. We continue to support our hoteliers' marketing efforts by promoting Indonesia as a tourism and travel destination, and by working closely with them to offer ever more attractive deals to the more than 7.5 million consumers who visit our sites every month," she added.

Award categories included Top Achievers - hotels who produced the most room nights for the three Wotif Group brands - and Top Producers - hotels who generated the most revenue from the Wotif Group brands*. The winners were:

Top Achievers FY 08/09 (room nights)
1. The Bali Dream Villa
2. Aston Bali Resort & Spa
3. Febri's Hotel & Spa

Top Producers FY 08/09 (revenue)
1. The Bali Dream Villa
2. Aston Bali Resort & Spa
3. The Sanyas Suite

Awards were also presented to Best Newcomers for each brand - signifying hotels that had signed up on a Wotif Group brand during the year and generated the most room night sales per month since listing. Indonesia's Best Newcomers were:

Wotif.com Best Newcomer FY 08/09
Padma Resort Bali at Legian

LateStays.com Best Newcomer FY 08/09
The Bali Dream Suite Villa

Asia Web Direct Best Newcomer FY 08/09
Melia Benoa

The Opposite Effect: Sales of pirated Miyabi DVDs surges

Compiled from various sources (click to view): Japan Today, and Times Online. Photo: detik.com

A Japanese porn star has canceled a trip to predominantly Muslim Indonesia to act in a no-nudity comedy after sparking outrage from religious groups, producers said Wednesday.

Maxima Pictures pulled plans to film “Kidnapping Miyabi” in Indonesia and is scouting for an alternative location, said executive producer Yoen K.

Maria Ozawa, popularly known as Miyabi, was scheduled to arrive Wednesday (Oct 14) to begin production. The 23-year-old was “sad and disappointed to hear so many people opposed her visit,” he said.

Over the years various foreigners have been banned from entering Indonesia, but Maria Ozawa does not look like an obvious candidate for the blacklist.

A shapely 23-year old of mixed Japanese and Canadian parentage, she is not a terrorist, journalist, or a convicted criminal. But Ozawa has been forced to cancel her arrival in Jakarta today in a row that has drawn in Islamic fundamentalists, feminists and plenty of people in between.

Better known by her acting name Miyabi, Ozawa is one of Asia’s most successful pornographic film actresses. Although little known in the West, she has surpassed even acting legends such as Pamela Anderson as the most searched for celebrity on Indonesia’s internet version of Google. But news of her plans to work in Indonesia have stirred up angry protests from conservative Islamic organisations in the latest round in an ongoing debate about sexual morality.

Ironically the film project which was to have brought Ozawa to Indonesia was one that required her to keep on all her clothes. She had been invited by the producers of Kidnapping Miyabi, a comedy about a group of teenagers obsessed with Ozawa’s work who “accidentally kidnap” her as she is attempting to escape from a mob of fans. The screenplay ends happily with the adult star settling down in Jakarta, where she opens a lingerie shop.

Yoen said discussions were ongoing with religious organizations, but added it was wrong to prevent someone from acting in film, rather than judging the final product.

One of the most vocal opponents has been the influential Indonesian Ullema Council, a board of Muslim clerics, which has consistently opposed Ozawa’s visit over fears it will damage the country’s image.

“Come or not, we continue to reject her,” said Ma’ruf Amin, a prominent member of the council, known by its Indonesian acronym MUI. “We will continue to reject her even if she will not be nude.”

The cancellation comes weeks after Indonesia’s parliament passed a law ordering filmmakers to uphold “religious, ethical, moral, and national cultural values.” Movie makers are concerned a new censorship body outlined in the law will bring back the days of extreme censorship under the Suharto dictatorship, which was toppled more than a decade ago.

Indonesia’s population of 235 million is largely socially conservative, but not everyone agreed with the clerics that keeping out porn stars is a good thing.

Around a dozen Muslim students staged a rally in the capital of South Sulawesi, Makassar, on Wednesday, saying Ozawa’s human rights were being violated.

“As long as she will not appear in any porn action, there is no reason to ban her visit to Indonesia,” said Ubaidi, a protester at the Indonesian Muslim University campus.

“Everyone has the right to come and earn a living in Indonesia,” he said. “Just take care of your own morals, don’t intervene in Miyabi’s business.”

The resulting brouhaha may have the opposite effect to that intended, however. According to the Japanese Kyodo news agency, sales of pirated Miyabi DVDs have surged in Jakarta’s Glodok market .

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A turnaround flight on Garuda Indonesia

Source (click to view): CNN Business Blogs/ Pauline Chiou

Five years ago, Garuda Indonesia was an airline that seemed to be on a path of constant turbulence. It was losing money year after year, battling allegations of corruption within the state-owned enterprise and stained with a questionable safety record. Today, Garuda is a symbol of what’s possible in the difficult airline industry. You need a leader with focus.

Emirsyah Satar, 50, is the CEO of Garuda. Now in his fifth year as the head of the national airline, he has turned Garuda from problematic to profitable through staged planning. “In the first two years, just surviving was good enough. And then the next two years was the turnaround stage,” he said. Now the airline is embarking on the growth stage.

The son of an Indonesian diplomat who grew up in Mexico City and Prague, Satar went on to become a banker and then the CEO of Bank Danamon, Indonesia’s fifth largest bank. In 2005, he was brought to Garuda as President and CEO and he made drastic changes from the start.

“What happened in 2005, the business model was just not working,” Satar said. It increased accountability at all levels in the organization. And in the short term, Satar decided less was more: “We got out of routes where we were losing money … it was ok if we reduced our market so we could become profitable again.”

He positioned Garuda as a “premium airline” and told his staff not to worry about local competition. With a domestic population of 240 million people, he bet focus on the cream of the crop would keep Garuda afloat while it restructured. His bet paid off, in part because Indonesia sidestepped the brunt of the global downturn thanks to the strength of its domestic market: Indonesia’s economy is still growing at around 4 percent.

While Garuda is still juggling $700 million in debt, the state-owned enterprise has been able to turn a profit the past two years. Satar has plans to make what he calls a “quantum leap.” By 2014, he wants to bring the fleet from the current 66 to 116 aircraft.

The big challenge now is getting a stalled IPO back on track. Satar had wanted to bring Garuda public this year, but the global downturn put a halt to that. Now he’s shooting for an IPO for June 2010. The airline is also in the process of restructuring its debt, which Satar hopes to have completed by the end of this month.

Then there was the issue of safety. In the past decade, a string of crashes involving various Indonesian airlines eroded the public trust in Indonesian air safety. In March 2007, a Garuda plane overshot a runway in Yogyakarta and crashed, killing 21 people. In June 2007, the European Union banned all Indonesian airlines in European airspace. Satar hired an American consultant and and cracked down on safety issues. In July of this year, the EU lifted the ban on certain airlines included Garuda.

The airline now plans to get into the long-haul market, starting with an Indonesia-Amsterdam route by June 2010. That will be followed by routes to Frankfurt, London, Paris, Rome and eventually in 2012, Los Angeles.

“We (Garuda) travel to Australia, Japan, Korea, China and these people still travel. And Bali is still a good attraction,” Satar said.

Survey shows many collapsed buildings in Padang were poorly constructed

Source (click to view): Channel NewsAsia/Tan Yew Guan

A recent survey by the University of Indonesia has shown that most of the buildings that collapsed in Padang in the recent earthquake were poorly constructed.

Experts said that if the buildings were built according to construction codes, many lives would have been saved.

Driving through central Padang, it is not hard to spot buildings, still standing, right next to those brought down by the quake.

For example, the Ambacang Hotel, a Dutch colonial-era building, has become a symbol of the disaster in more ways than one. Its two-storey facade has been left standing, but the extension has collapsed.

Four floors were added to the two-storey structure when it was converted to an hotel. But while the facade stood the test, it is believed the additional load from the extension brought down the rest of the building during the tremblor.

Some 200 people lost their lives at this site alone. That accounts for nearly a quarter of the official death toll, which some said could have been avoided.

Professor Kerry Sieh, earthquake expert, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, said: "There are very specific things that communities can do on a local level, on the national level - to make it so we survive these events, so we do not see a whole classroom of students crushed under a building in Padang.

"None of that has to happen if people have enough foresight and vision, and if people have enough scientific information and engineering information. And if they have the economic wherewithal to do something about it."

Something was done seven years ago to prevent this when rules dictating quake-proof buildings were passed. Under those regulations, buildings in Padang are supposed to withstand three times the shock felt on September 30.

The Governor of West Sumatra Gumawan Fauzi admitted that enforcement has been lacking.

He said: "In the future, the government hopes to be more vigilant in handling the reconstruction of these damaged houses. The government would make sure that these houses meet the "Construction Code" guidelines and are strong enough to meet the impact of future earthquakes."

Experts have warned that a tremor far bigger than the last one is in the pipeline. They said that for West Sumatra, it is not a question of "if", but "when".

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Aceh outrage over Miss Indonesia

Compiled from the original sources (click to view): BBC/Karishma Vaswani, and Salim OsmanStraits Times/ANN

She represented Aceh in Indonesia's high-profile beauty pageant, and beat 37 others to win the coveted Miss Indonesia Universe crown last Friday (October 9).

But instead of praise, Miss Qori Sandioriva, 18, who is part Acehnese, has been denounced by clerics and community leaders in Indonesia's strict Islamic province for bringing shame to Aceh.

The furore centres on her taking part in the contest without wearing a jilbab, the Islamic headdress.

Clerics in Indonesia's conservative Muslim province of Aceh say they are outraged that an Acehnese woman has won the title of Miss Indonesia.

The clerics say that by failing to wear a veil during the competition she has betrayed her Acehnese roots and brought shame to the province.

Aceh has special autonomy in Indonesia and has implemented partial Sharia law.

It is the only province in Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim country, that follows these laws.

Miss Qori claimed that she had the blessings of the Aceh provincial government to represent the province in the pageant.

But Deputy Governor Muhammad Nazar disputed her claim yesterday, saying: "I will meet her personally to query why she took part in the contest."

Teung-ku Faisal Ali, the secretary general of Aceh's Ulama Association, said that anyone who represents Aceh must uphold the province's values.

He said Qori Sandioriva did not wear a veil during the competition and therefore did not represent the Acehnese people, who have strong Islamic faith and values.

When asked about not wearing a veil during the competition, Ms Sandiorova said she believed hair is beauty, and that she is proud of beauty.

The controversy is likely to return next year when she goes on to compete in the Miss Universe contest where she will have to don a swimsuit as part of the pageant.

Beauty pageants have always been a sensitive issue in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim-majority country, because of the presence of a small but vocal minority comprising hardline Muslim groups that object to such contests.

Internet won`t be able to replace print media in Indonesia?

Original source (click to view full story): Antara News

Amidst rising fear of possible bankruptcy of the print media as the result of their declining competitiveness against cyber journalists, some senior journalists and lecturers opined that Indonesian print media companies should not worry about it.

Print media companies in Indonesia would not be replaced by the Internet, as long as they could make the necessary adjustments with the development of Internet as a means of disseminating news stories, Paul-Josef Raue, editor-in-chief of Braunscheweiger Zeitung said in an interview after addressing the 10th Asian-European Editors Forum in Seoul.

The senior journalists and lecturers opined that the Internet will not be able to take over the position of newspapers, if the media concerned was able to capitalize on the Internet as a form of communication to disseminate the news stories to the public.
According to him, many print media like Kompas, Media Indonesia and others media remained unaffected by the mushrooming Internet.

As to the case of Indonesia, according to him, many print media fell into bankcruptcy during the economic and monetary crisis hitting the world`s largest archipelagic country in 1998. Some newspapers could no longer finance their operations, thus forcing their owners to close down their media.

"Now, I hear that there is no certain print media which has to stop operation just because of a loss in competition with the Internet," Dr Stephen Quinn, Associate Professor of Journalism, School of Communications and Creative Art, Deakin University, said.

Many print media in Indonesia like the Jakarta Post, Kompas, Media Indonesia, the Jakarta Globe and others had their own web sites offering news stories to their readers not only in Indonesia, but also to those in other countries.

"It means that they really understand the trend of the world and try to adapt themselves with the form of communication," he said.

"In Indonesia, people who have an Internet link are not the majority. This condition is advantageous to print media like newspapers as they still have a chance to get the sympathy of their readers. Practically cyber Internet has yet to be regarded as a staunch competitor, " he said.

Internet journalism is being perceived as superior since it transformed viewers, listeners and news consumers of the past into participants of today`s media theater.

It is for that reason, media companies should concentrate on the values of journalism.

Good journalism is always linked to research, investigation, analysis , comparison of facts and evidence, he said. "What is so different when cyber journalists repeat their `search and link terminology. They do what they and link to the rest. No, we aren`t that far apart."

According to Stephen, a well-written story enriched with deep links for further research by the users could show the way for modern print media. Service is the remedy again and again . "Why don`t we show our clients how a story develops - Why don`t we interact with them. Why not offer our clients news in progress.

In the meantime, Dr Heinz-Rudolf Othmerding, international news director of the Deutsche Presse- Agentur GmbH, said that print media of tomorrow had to generate the hectic experience, allowing for the sensory experience of touch, combined with the intellectual and emotional experience of genuine participation.

"I am optimistic that media companies could remain to exist and leading amidst the rising use of the Internet nowadays as long as the stories offered to the readers are in depth, while the news put on the website are often short. This is what I find from web sites of some media in Indonesia," he said.

"However, it is a good strategy to let their clients or people buy their newspapers, if they want to know more about the news," he said, adding that some people only wanted to read the lead of the news.

"The questions that need to be addressed are what we do best, what we need to be good at, what we can ensure the best in a particular field and where our news can create values for our clients or readers."

"I learn that some media companies have been user friendly and have their strategies to develop their services in providing the people with information both through their newspapers and the Internet," he said.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Better relief efforts in Indonesia this time round

Original source (click to view): Channel NewsAsia

After several natural disasters in recent years in Indonesia, the local authorities and the military were this time given the strongest message yet by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to do better in leading recovery efforts – and it has begun to show.

Since the West Sumatran earthquake struck on Sept 30, the Governor's office in Padang has built emergency schools and sent food to needy families, including over 6,000 tonnes of rice as of Friday.

Their efforts have received praise from the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC).

Team leader Winston Chang said that "all systems (were) working well with no obstacles on the field ... good cooperation on the field with various agencies and institutions".

The situation was slightly different earlier last week, when Mr Yudhoyono said he was "not pleased if governors report on damaged infrastructures that they need some hundred billions of rupiah ... what I want to know is the ongoing emergency steps", as reported by Indonesian daily Kompas on Tuesday.

Given the "geological risks" Indonesia faces, the President added that "the military should keep building effective capacity with high alertness", so they can respond quicker.

One foreign aide worker noted how the Indonesian army had arrived in the quake-hit region just as the Singapore Civil Defence Force was due to fly in on Oct 1. In the end, the 42-man SCDF rescue team flew in the next day, as the local government had not been ready to receive them earlier, Singapore's Foreign Affairs Ministry had said.

'We'll never refuse help'

In an interview with this reporter, Padang governor Gamawan Fauzi said: "We will never refuse help from the outside – be it in health supplies, rescue or food – but we must show that we have the ability to do it by ourselves also," he said.

This is not some "misplaced sense of patriotism" at work, either, said University of Indonesia international relations lecturer Sayed Fazan.

"It's not bad to have locals in charge because we need the element of local knowledge, especially when access to the most remote of areas is concerned."

While UNDAC is directing relief efforts on the ground, officials from non-government organisations – some 184 NGOs have set up base at the Governor's residence – said the government has been "more than helpful" in their aid efforts.

"We've had quite a lot of help from the government here in terms of organising flights and making sure we reach as many people as possible," said Mr Andy Holland of England's ShelterBox, which has been distributing tents and food to the people in Pariaman.

But the drive to have Indonesians lead recovery efforts seems to have gone unnoticed among the locals. At Kota Bangkor, located on the outskirts of Pariaman, one villager said she has seen more foreigners come to their help.

This is simply not true, countered Padang governor, Mr Gamawan: "We have a lot of locals – 1,600 local groups, in fact – that have been mobilised to the outskirts to give help. We value foreign help, but we cannot let it be said our locals don't want to help our own people."

How French Sees The Relations with Indonesia

Source (click to view): Kompas.com

French ambassador to Indonesia Philippe Zeller said the relations between France and Indonesia have been increasing of late, while Indonesia has become increasingly strategic to the government and people of his country.

"Not only because of economic development, because there are 110 French multinational companies in Indonesia. Indonesia has been playing an increasingly significant international role," he said here Friday afternoon.

The career diplomat was in Denpasar for a reunion of Alliance Francaises, a French world cultural and language institution already in existence for the past 125 years. In Indonesia, the institution has been operating for 70 years already, and have branch offices in Medan, Bandung, Denpasar, Semarang, Balikpapan, and Surabaya.

Zeller said the development of the relations and similar perception in many respects had been going on since the last few years, the latest when President Susilo B Yudhoyono and French President Nicolas Sarcozy had 20-minute talks in the G20 summit in Pittsburgh, the United States.

"The two heads of state agreed on many things. France fully agreed with the green diplomacy concept," he said. The 20-minute talks between Yudhoyono and Sarcozy in Pittsburgh, he said, adequately presented the interest of the two countries because at a lower level understanding had already been reached.

With regard to the 7.6-magnitude earthquake which had struck Padang, Jambi, and many places in Jawa Barat, France has dispatched 75 military personnel with medical and building reconstruction skills. They had joined their counterparts from some other countries in cluding Indonesia.

Friday, October 9, 2009

University of Indonesia ranks world's 201st best

Source: Xinhua News

The Times Higher Education-QS World University Ranking (THESS), a university rating company, said that University of Indonesia (UI) ranked the 201st among 500 world's best universities, Kompas daily reported on Friday.

"This is an extra ordinary achievement. Last year, UI ranked the 287th and in 2007 ranked the 395th," the university's rectorDr. Gumilar Rusliwa Somantri was quoted as saying.

Based on the THESS survey on 5,000 universities worldwide, UI is now included in elite university lines in Asia (the 34th) and in the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nation) countries (the 5th).

The institution evaluation was based on performance indicators of research and publication, teaching, graduates' work performance and others.

Gumilar said that in line with UI's increasing rank, the amount of national and international research publications by the university's researchers had increased to 10,050 in 2009 compared to 9,050 in 2008. In the same period, the number of the university's researchers increased to 1,005 from 937.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

KLM celebrates 85 years in Indonesia

Source (click to view): eTravel Blackboard

In the midst of a year-long celebration of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines' 90th Anniversary, yet another historic milestone is being celebrated in Indonesia. Exactly 85 years ago, KLM launched its first intercontinental flight linking Amsterdam and Batavia (since re-named Jakarta).

On 01 October 1924, a Fokker F-VII took off from Schiphol Airport on a 14-day multi-stop flight that culminated in a highly-anticipated arrival at Batavia. In those early days, a return ticket cost the equivalent of €25,000 (at today's prices) and the route catered mainly to the needs of top civil servants. Passengers were given the royal treatment at every stop along the route.

The success of the trial flights encouraged KLM to commence regular scheduled services every fortnight in September 1929 and by then, the journey was shortened to just 12 days.

While gaining popularity on this route, the first operating frequency was once per 14 days. Then it became weekly, and very soon it became twice per week.

Today, KLM's daily flight to Jakarta is undertaken by the Boeing 777-300ER and B777-200 in slightly more than 12 hours (with a stop in Kuala Lumpur). KLM's growth on the route mirrors the vast strides that aviation has achieved during the intervening 85 years and travel between Amsterdam and Jakarta is routinely undertaken by people from all walks of life. Onboard the fuel-efficient B777-300ER/B777-200 fleet, all passengers are pampered with state-of-the-art amenities including audio and video on demand, language courses, audio books and games, SMS and e-mail services. In the Business Class cabin, hard-shell sleeper seats transform into a near-horizontal bed with a 175-degree incline.

KLM's on-going fleet modernisation programme, warm and genuine Dutch hospitality and reliability enhance the flying experience of our passengers as we turn 90. Indonesia and the Netherlands share a deep-rooted historical bond and Jakarta has proven to be a key destination in KLM's global network. Strong demand in 2008 has precipitated the injection of an additional 7 percent capacity on this route.

KLM's Country Manager, Indonesia Mr Axel Colen said, "Our historical and cultural bonds are deep and multi-faceted and these have resulted in strong ties between the governments, corporations and most of all the people of the Netherlands and Indonesia. Indonesia has a resilient economy with tremendous potential and we have full confidence that it will continue to be a very important market for AIR FRANCE KLM. We are ready to serve Indonesia for another 85 years!"

KLM's celebration of its 85 years of presence in Indonesia kicked off with an Aircraft Design Competition, a journey of inspiration towards the next level of Aircraft Design, with a main prize of tickets to Amsterdam including a hangar visit.

Then on 01 October 2009 KLM will host a cocktail / dinner reception at Arsip Nasional Building on 01 October 2009 to thank its customers and supporters, trade partners, media and staff - more than 300 of these have been invited. During this event, guests will be entertained by Betawi dancers and musicians, jazz band and be treated to a video flashback of KLM's Amsterdam-Jakarta service.

Special promotional fares of US$85 (including taxes) to Kuala Lumpur and US$777 (including taxes) to Europe in economy class will be offered between 19 - 26 October 2009 for travel between 19 October and 15 December 2009. In Business Class, an unbeatable promotional fare of US$1924 to Europe (fare of US$2009 for second person travelling together) is also extended for the same period.??

Visitors to the KLM website from 1 - 31 October can also take part in an online game where participants who answer the questions correctly can stand a chance to win the main prize of two tickets to Amsterdam.

In November 21, 2009, KLM will have CSR activity, where we will invite 85 orphanages to Ancol bay area, to do cleaning campaign in the morning near the beach & continue with fun filled activity at Dunia Fantasi playground.

More information on these are available on KLM's website at
http://www.klm.co.id/ and details of KLM's 90 Years of Inspiration may be found at www.klm.com/thejourney.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Living in luxury in Jakarta

Source (click to view full story): The Southland Times/ Rhiannon Horrell

On a sunny afternoon, 23 floors up in a modern apartment building in South Jakarta, the Quertier family are a world away from their beginnings in Gore.

"Next time I say I want an assignment overseas I must be more specific about the country," Carol Quertier says, laughing.

They are sheltered from the harsh realities of Jakartan-life within their high-walled apartment complex, which boasts an expansive swimming pool, a garden and even a convenience store.

"One of the great things with living here, with our lifestyle, is having people who come in and help," Carol says.

They have two Indonesian women as servants. Darsi shares care of 6-year-old son Orson with Warren while Tartik does all of the cooking and cleaning.

The original plan was to stay three years, maybe five at the most, but they've been there nine. Orson was born in New Zealand but was an "expat" by the age of one month.

"They kept saying to me `Would you stay for another year Carol? Another two years'?"

Now they've been away from New Zealand more than half their lives, but plan to end up back here, where the pace of life is slower.

Each day, Carol has a seven minute walk to Axa Insurance while Warren works from home in online financial trading.

Despite security concerns and terrorist threats to Indonesia, the couple says they feel safer walking the streets of Jakarta than other major cities.

"I think we have said to each other that if ever we get to a point where we are worried, and you are always watching your back, then it really is time to move on.

"I was at Axa when they had the Mariott Hotel bomb. It was like 200m across an open field from my office. I was sitting there watching the smoke."

Warren says it is surreal to see how quickly life resumes when a bomb does go off.

"At Senayan complex, where they play baseball, they stopped for about a minute because they heard the bomb. Within a couple of minutes they carried on playing. You would think everything around it would stop but they just kept going."

The family has grown to love Indonesia after taking six to nine months to adapt. With a population of 12 million, Jakarta is a bustling city with traffic problems that make Auckland's seem minor.

"There is always something going on. It is the city that never sleeps," Carol says.

"You go back home to the farm and it is so quiet you can actually here the ringing in your ears," Warren adds. "It takes a bit to get used to it again."

Now in their early 40s, they find New Zealand too cold after acclimatising to the tropical heat of Java.

"I can't stand the cold now," Warren says. "This is all I ever live in a T-shirt. You go home to New Zealand and it takes you half an hour to get ready by the time you put all the layers on before you go outside."

With general costs lower than at home, living in Jakarta can be relatively cheap despite the fluctuating Indonesian rupiah.

"You could probably live better here for the same amount of money," Warren says.

"When we go back to New Zealand, we will holiday using our US dollars, which at the moment gives you a better purchasing power there."

"When people come to Jakarta we say everyone is a millionaire," Carol says. One million rupiahs is about NZ$166.

While they live in luxury, they are aware of the mass poverty that plagues Jakarta. Slum housing sits alongside skyscrapers, with whole families living on the streets.

"It is pretty much just squatters, not even a kampong (neighbourhood) as such," says Warren. "You can see real hardship there.

"People in New Zealand complain about silly little things. They need to stop it and realise just how lucky they are."

His mother, who visited at Christmas, was shocked to see the locals washing their clothes in a dirty puddle on the street.

"It wakes you up a bit," he says.

Indonesia to stop 'invasion'

Source (click to view): AsiaOne and The New Straits Times

Indonesia will not allow an extremist group of nationalists, bent on avenging a series of wrongdoing allegedly committed by Malaysia, to "invade" the country tomorrow.

"It will never, never take place. We are taking precautions," said Teuku Faizasyah, spokesman for the Foreign Ministry without elaborating.

"We have high regards for the bilateral relationship with Malaysia."

Faizasyah said the government could not act against the group as long as they were only making statements.

"But if they go beyond that, we will take legal action."

Benteng Demokrasi Rakyat (Bendera), a group of vigilantes with 1,500 members, vowed to "wage war" on Malaysia tomorrow.

Bendera said its plan to invade Malaysia would proceed on schedule and 1,500 men would depart for Malaysian shores by ships and other modes of transportation.

"It (invasion) will proceed as planned," said Mustar Bona Ventura, a BDR coordinator.

On whether they would be armed, he replied: "I can't tell you that."

Mustar said the men would depart from Surabaya, south Kalimantan and other cities.

The group is angry over the abusive treatment of Indonesian workers in Malaysia, the sovereignty claims over Ambalat and Malaysia's alleged efforts to claim "tarian pendet" as its own.

Indonesia Muslim's Moderate Attitude Praised

Source (click to view): Kompas.com

The moslem community in Australia who came from the different nations in the world still have their own identity, and in the process, the moderate attitude of Indonesian moslems can be made a reference, Australian young moslem leader Mohammed El-Leissy said.

"Apart from the problem of corruption in Indonesia, Indonesian moslems are closer to Islam. We in Australia are still maintaining our identity, and I wish to assume a moderate attitude of Indonesian moslems (reference)," he said at a discussion with ANTARA, Republika daily and TV-One in Melbourne Tuesday.

When visited the studio of the Community Radio "Syn FM" at the Royal Technology Institute in Melbourne, El-Leissy who visited Jakarta, Surabaya, Yogyakarta, and Bandung last May as participant in an exchange program of Australia-Indonesia young moslem leaders, he said he liked Indonesia very much.

His liking of Indonesia was gained in his experience of interaction and seeing from close quarters the life of moslems in Indonesia, including the freedom of women, and their relationship with men.

The broadcaster of Syn FM RMIT who is active in the Victoria Islamic Council even called Indonesia as the biggest moslem population in the world with the highest maturity, which not many countries in the Middle East have.

Bulgari Announces Residential Project in Bali

Source (click to view): Luxury Insider/Ashok Soman

In what may be a first for the luxury goods world, Italian luxury goods group Bulgari recently announced their first branded residential villas project. While the group already has a city hotel property in Milan and a resort in Bali, this residential project constitutes a real leap.

This is what the brand is doing, briefly: Five single family villas (starting at USD6 million) designed by Antonio Citterio and Partners will be built adjacent to the Bulgari Resort in Bali, Indonesia. Like the Bulgari Resort, all the villas are expected to have excellent views of the Indian Ocean.

Obviously, the challenge for Bulgari and the developers will be in transposing the values of the brand from conventional luxury goods (i.e. jewelry, watches and accessories) to real estate, without the benefit of an established path.

According to Bulgari, the inspiration for this development came from the Bulgari Villa, effectively the presidential or penthouse property of the Bulgari Resort. In many ways, this real estate development is even more exciting than a Bulgari jet or yacht would be. We expect the entire luxury industry to watch this development closely for years to come.

In fact, discussions on the possibility of developing branded real estate have been ongoing for more than a decade now but that was largely about real estate brands, such as Trump.

In this case though, the project is not directly under the Bulgari Group. Operating under license from Bulgari S.p.A. the group’s Indonesian partners are executing and managing the project. These parties include entrepreneur Soetikno Soedarjo, CV Buana Restuabadi and Star Lucky International Pte Ltd. Jones Lang LaSalle is handling sales inquiries.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Golkar: Who will replace Jusuf Kalla?

Source (click to view): Jakarta Globe

Hundreds of delegates from the provincial branches of the Golkar Party converged on Pekanbaru, Riau for a four-day national leadership meeting beginning Monday.

At issue is who will replace the outgoing chairman, Vice President Jusuf Kalla, criticized by many for the battering the party took in April’s legislative elections.
The congress comes at a critical juncture in Golkar’s long history. A number of analysts and critics have predicted the party chairmanship would go to the richest candidate rather than the most concerned about returning the party to its former glory.

Which contender will win the race for the party’s top job?

Aburizal Bakrie
A controversial businessman and outgoing member of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s cabinet. It is highly unlikely that the Sidoarjo mudflow disaster, which has been linked to Bakrie’s PT Lapindo Brantas, or his low approval ratings will hold much sway with Golkar branch chairmen. The clear frontrunner for the chairmanship, Bakrie has secured the support of former chairman Akbar Tanjung and Golkar deputy chairman Agung Laksono. He is also expected to align Golkar with Yudhoyono’s Democratic Party-led ruling coalition.

Yuddy Chrisnandi
The up-and-comer within Golkar promoted himself as a reformer within the struggling party but then sought the blessings of former dictator Suharto’s family for his candidacy. Yuddy has pledged to shake up the party. Although not expected to be in any position to make a serious stake for the Golkar crown, Yuddy maintains that he will be able to secure the support of at least 30 percent of the party’s regional branches. His vision is to place Golkar as an independent party, but says that he will take cabinet seats if they were offered.

Surya Paloh
The flamboyant media mogul and veteran Golkar leader claims he has the support of 362 provincial and district branch chairmen. The bearded Paloh has vowed to move Golkar out of the government for the first time in its long history. He views the former ruling party as an equal partner to Yudhoyono’s government and one that must be critical and proportionate. He has pledged to reject any cabinet seats and instead focus on consolidating and rebuilding the party ahead of the 2014 elections.

Tommy Suharto
The former high-flying playboy prince of Cendana. The favored son of the late Suharto claims he has the support of 300 branch leaders, but will not identify them. He has promised to reject positions within the government and to form an independent party.

Some Indonesians are blaming a supposedly "unlucky" president for Sumatra's earthquake

Source: (click to view): AFP/Aubrey Belford

Some superstitious Indonesians are blaming a supposedly "unlucky" president -- and not shifting tectonic plates -- for the latest earthquake in this disaster-prone country.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, popularly known by his initials SBY, has long been burdened by murmurs that he carries with him the shadow of cosmic misfortune.

A string of disasters both natural and man-made since his election in 2004, including the Indian Ocean tsunami that killed 220,000 across Asia, has seen quips that SBY stands for "Selalu Bencana Ya", roughly meaning "Always A Disaster".

"SBY, because of his birth date, will always attract disasters to this country, according to the Primbon (a Javanese almanac of mysticism)" Permadi, a veteran politician from the opposition Gerindra party and practising shaman, told AFP.

"Just look at the numbers of his birth date -- the ninth of the ninth, '49 -- that's unlucky. The more he holds on to power, the more great disasters will happen," he said.

If Yudhoyono stays president, "a much bigger disaster will strike Jakarta for sure," Permadi said, referring to the Indonesian capital.

"If SBY had a big heart, he would step down."

Not everyone believes this theory -- and many see SBY's birthday as enviably lucky -- but such talk of supernatural misfortune has deep resonance in Indonesia, where Islam and Christianity are for many merged with older traditions of Hinduism, Buddhism and animism….click here for full story by AFP.


SEE ALSO:
Indonesia declares two-month emergency in Sumatra

Saturday, October 3, 2009

FT: Warning of bigger tremor to come

Source (click to view): FT.com/By Kevin Brown and Earth Observatory of Singapore, NTU

The earthquake that struck Sumatra three days ago is likely to be followed by an even larger tremor that could cause a tsunami as devastating as the one that hit Indonesia in 2004, according to a leading seismologist.

Professor Kerry Sieh, director of the Earth Observatory at Singapore’s Nanyang University, says earthquakes measured at 8.4 and 7.8 which hit southern Sumatra in September 2007 marked the beginning of a cycle of tremors that starts roughly every 200 years.

“This is 100 times smaller than the big one,” Prof Sieh said by telephone from Padang, where he was monitoring the aftershocks from Wednesday’s earthquake, estimated by the US Geological Survey at 7.6 on the scale used by modern seismologists.

“My timing has not changed as a result of this quake. This is not the big one, but we don’t know when that will happen – it could be in 30 seconds or 30 years,” he said.

Prof Sieh said there had been 30 or more earthquakes of magnitude six or greater in Sumatra or the adjacent seas in the last 10 years, including the devastating quake measured at 9.1 on Boxing Day 2004.

These tremors had released more pent up energy from below the earth’s surface than anywhere else in the world over the decade, marking the start of a “failure sequence,” comparable to watching an aircraft falling apart in mid-air, that would inevitably culminate eventually in a much bigger tremor, he said.

Records going back to 1300 suggested that there had been three such failure sequences in the seas around Sumatra, the last of which began 210 years ago. However, it was impossible to forecast how long the series of quakes would last before calm returned.

Prof Sieh said there was no tsunami on Wednesday because tidal waves accompanied earthquakes only when a subsea fault was so close to the sea floor that it was suddenly deformed and the displaced water rushed on to land.

The Padang earthquake did not trigger a tsunami because it originated about 80 kilometres below the sea floor. By comparison, the ruptures that caused the Sumatran earthquakes in 2004, 2005 and 2007 were within 30 kilometres of the sea floor.

Prof Sieh said in a technical explanation of Wednesday’s quake posted on the Earth Observatory’s website that most earthquakes off Sumatra occurred as a result of collisions between undersea tectonic plates – large slabs of the earth’s crust that move slowly under earth’s surface...

For full story click theoriginal source:
FT.com
SEE ALSO:

International rescue teams arrive in Indonesia

Source (click to view): BBC Newsroom

Rescue teams from all over the world are arriving in the Indonesian island of Sumatra to help search for survivors of Wednesday's earthquake.

Workers arriving in remote areas three days after the quake are finding villages completely destroyed.

So far more than a thousand people are known to have died, but now that number is expected to rise.

British, Australian and South Korean rescuers have arrived and the EU and Russia are also sending help.

The city of Padang, which is very close to the coast, is among the areas hardest hit by the tremors. Up to 3,000 people are believed trapped beneath collapsed buildings.
Help

Charities like the Red Cross say more help is needed.

"We need drinking water and clothes because many people's clothes were burnt in fires," said one Red Cross worker.

"We also need medicines to stop infection."

It's quite difficult for search and rescue teams to work their way through to the worst affected areas, so it's going to take a long time to help people.

The earthquake, which measured 7.6 on the richter scale, and a really strong aftershock brought down hospitals, schools and shopping centres as well as causing landslides across the island.