These two simple words “Factory Asia” can visually define Asia’s growth performance over the last two decades. The first impression of Asia from Western aspect would be growing population that can provide cheap and abundant labor. However, the map of products produced and traded by Asian economies rapidly changed from low value sectors (i.e. agriculture) to manufacturing and services in recent years. According to the conference record from the 46th Annual Meeting of The Board of Governors in Delhi in May, 2013, developing economies in Asia have revealed remarkable growth over the past few decades. Meanwhile, strong growth combined with visible reductions in poverty has encountered a setback during the global financial crisis. Hence, in order to absolutely implement the innovation of Asian economy, the relevant actions and adjustments must be carried. Read the rest of this entry »
The impact of the attacks on the Sari nightclub on Bali in 2002, where over 100 people were injured and 202 got killed
On 22 September 2012, the anti-terror brigade of Indonesia invaded two houses in Solo (Java) and found 5 bombs, which were ready for use. This discovery is alarming in Indonesia, because ten years ago when a terrorist attack on Bali killed 202 people, leaving the country in total shock. A study of Professor Michael Hitchcock (University of Oxford) shows that the attacks were targeted towards the United States and its allies. It is remarkable that almost 20% of the 202 were actually Indonesian Muslims. The bombers declared that this was just a human error and they regret the fact that Muslims were killed during the attack. Many media channels mention that the Islamic schools and mosques are a breeding ground for terrorism in Indonesia. The fact is that three of the four Bali bombers were graduated from Al Mukmin, an Islamic boarding school in Solo. Although the bombers were caught, and one was sentenced to life the other three were executed, their ideologies will still exist. I wonder if Al Mukmin is the breeding ground for the next generation of terrorists.
Dutch news correspondent of the Dutch Broadcasting Foundation (NOS) Michel Maas interviewed Nasir Abas, a former Indonesian terrorist, who is now working closely with Indonesian police to fight terrorism. Abas warned that the other terrorists should not be underestimated since they are continuously preparing new attacks on the US and its allies.
Nasir Abas, former terrorist but now anti-terrorism fighter
Maas found out that the graveyards of two of the four men responsible for the bombing 10 years ago are frequently visited by supporters. Maas claims that, although the men were executed, terrorism is reciprocal in Indonesia because the breeding ground for terrorism still exists in the Islamic schools and mosques.
The Jakarta Globe published an article last week, in which the chief of the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT, Ansyaad Mbai, described that an Islamic boarding school in Solo is the “center of gravity” for aspiring militants. The school was established by Abu Bakar Bashir, who is the spiritual leader of the Jemaah Islamiah (JI), a group which strives for a fundamental theocracy in South-east Asia and has links to Al-Qaeda. The school is trying to downplay its reputation by saying that Bashir is no longer part of the school. Although Bashir is currently in prison, the Al Mukmin School still has pictures of him hanging in the hallways and particular expressional signs which says: “Enter to learn and go outside to battle,” are found everywhere in school. According to ABC News (US), Indonesia’s government has been hesitant to move against them, fearing a backlash from the country’s moderate Islamic community.
The headmaster of Al Mukmin, Wahuddin, says this list of infamous alumni is coincidental and that the school does not recruit or train terrorists. It does, however, passionately defend Islam. He even told ABC news that, “when necessary,” students are taught “to struggle against whatever stands in the way of Islam or when Islam is trampled upon by others.”
The Islamic school, Al Mukmin in Solo, Indonesia and alleged breeding school for new terrorists
Although, I find it highly remarkable that a significant number of Al Mukmin alumni are involved with terrorist groups or attacks, when can you say that this school is a breeding ground for terrorists? The statement made by Wahuddin can be interpreted in different ways but most of the time, in a negative way for the Islam. According to Inez Mahony, PhD candidate at the University of Sydney, the images in the media are being stereotyped and in her case study she found out that the image of Indonesian Islamic schools as breeding grounds for terrorists and extremists are reinforced by most articles. Mahony also claims that, the “actual” Indonesian terrorists are educated in several other Islamic institutions besides Al Mukmin. When researching this issue I found many contradictory statements because, of all the terrorists in Indonesia a majority went to a variety of schools and not only Al Mukmin. However, in an interview with The Sun-Herald (AUS), Bashir claims that the Bali bombers just defended the Islam and if you convert to Islam, you will be saved from the terrorists and the magazine sees it as evidence that the school is a school for future terrorists. The statements made by Bashir are dangerous but does it make Al Mukmin a breeding ground for terrorists?
I do not believe that every Islamic institution can automatically be pointed out as a “training camp” for future terrorists but when looking at the founder of the Al Mukmin School, Bashir, it can be said that his ideologies and statements are very alarming. In an interview with Bashir published by the magazine “Spotlight on Terror” he refers to tourists in Bali as ‘worms, snakes and maggots’ with specific reference to the immorality of Australian infidels and he also states that, “the young must be first at the front line, don’t hide at the back. You must be at the front, dies as martyrs and all your sins will be forgiven. This is how to achieve forgiveness.” Although statements are not enough evidence to prove the allegation of being a terrorist’s breeding ground, it is alarming that the school have more or less adoration for Bashir. I find that the signals coming from the Al Mukmin school should not be ignored by the Indonesian government, especially when the after effects and wounds of the Bali bombing are still fresh. The island of Bali is heavily reliant on tourism so the fear of another bombing will prevent the tourists from coming and will lead to an economic disaster. Along with the warning signs of Abas and the continuous threats of terrorist attacks in the world, Indonesia should watch its back and prevent unnecessary bloodshed by try fighting terrorism from the core even if it means to keep an eye on the alleged breeding grounds.
In January of 2012, an Indonesian delegation, led by Army chief of staff general Edhie Widowo, visited the Netherlands to have a closer look at Dutch Leopard tanks. These tanks have been for sale since last year’s strict measures when it comes to budget cuts, necessary because of the tough financial situation the Netherlands finds itself in, as part of the broader Euro-crisis. At first only a few details emerged, and what may seemed a “normal” arms sale at first sight, now months later became a major complicated controversy balancing money versus human rights, in both Indonesia and the Netherlands.
Leopard tanks that are up for sale by the Dutch
It has become such a major debate since the Dutch government could certainly use the money it would obtain from selling the tanks. The government has cut the budget of the Ministry of Defence particularly hard in order to reach the required budget cuts. In addition, it does not violate any of the European rules for weapons export and various defence experts have argued that “If the Netherlands won’t, Germany will” as the Jakarta Post mentioned that Military chief Widowo said “we will not beg them”, adding that he would soon meet representatives from Germany to discuss possibilities. On the other hand, the Dutch realise with the Indonesia’s human rights record that the concern is certainly there regarding the actual purpose of these tanks. An ethical dilemma, especially since the often quoted words of the Norwegian minister Jan Egeland, although in early 2000, say “The Netherlands has probably become the most effective human rights advocate today”.
Motivations from Indonesia however also have its contradictions as the heavy tanks are argued not to be suitable due to lack of infrastructure in Indonesia. Not to forget, for a country with far greater sea than land mass, it would seem to have more benefits investing in for example, patrol ships to guard the country’s maritime borders. Alternatively, as argued by the Dutch Newspaper de Volkskrant, maybe it is more an attempt to mirror neighbouring countries’ inventories and status, as the army chief Wibowo, is also president Yudhoyono’s brother-in-law.
So why, despite the mixed arguments, are there negotiations in the first place? From the Dutch side the driving force could be Minister of Defence Hans Hillen, as he has to cut one billion euros from the budget, which makes the total worth of the tanks, an estimated 200 million Euro, an attractive figure. A Dutch website against arms trafficking even stated that Mr Hillen mentioned that ethics are not a problem: “As Minister of Defence I look at the sale of material that we dispose from the idea that I want to see money, and therefore I don’t have morals”. Ethical questions are the exclusive responsibility of the Ministers of Economic and Foreign Affairs, he argues.
West Papua’s location indicated in Indonesia
For Indonesia, as external threats seem off the table, it might have to do with keeping protesters away from the streets in major cities. As the reason could be that the tanks would later be used to deal with what Jakarta branded as the “separatists”. This is where the sovereignty, given by the Dutch in 1961, of the Papua province comes in to play. Since the situation in Papua is again on-going, Indonesia might be taking measures against the supposed rebels in Papua-New-Guinea. According to Judge Bahabol, who fought for the sovereignty of Papua, “Who’s flying the Papuan flag now, gets threatened with 15 years in prison”. However, current Indonesian ambassador and senior military expert, Dr Salim said, “the reason for human rights violations in Indonesia should not be the reason for rejecting the sale of tanks. That’s the past. Even now it is no longer as serious as the past because the army was not involved.” Nevertheless, the biggest issue in this is that Irian Jaya (Papua and West Papua Provinces) was a consequence off an incomplete process of decolonization of the Netherlands East Indies. Therefore, there is the possibility of the Dutch selling arms that might be used against a province that they are responsible for existing. A situation destined for critique.
In the Dutch context the government needs parliamentary approval for a sale like this, an unlikely outcome. With such strong criticism due to historical events and contradicting reasons for both the Indonesian and Dutch Parliaments against the transfer of the Leopard tanks, why would either democratic government continue negotiating a deal that lacks necessary support? Hopefully it will become clear that money is not everything, and that the Dutch keep their reputation in considering human rights before other concerns.
The Chinese military budget of $106.4 billion has been approved by the National People’s Congress this month. The amount was increased by 11.2% in 2011, which is twice as much as the spending in 2006. The spending in 2000 the spending was only $30mil, which is fairly low compared to today’s budget. According to the Economist, China will continue to increase this budget with 12% each year, which would mean that China would become the biggest military spender within only 20 years.
China often highlighted their ideas on of a peaceful increase of its army expenses and the peaceful nature of its military modernization. However, according to the World Socialist Website, the reason for the increased military spending is to defend the economic and strategic interest of Chinese capitalism. This is a reaction to the aggressive attitude of the US. China feels threatened, because Washington is strengthening its partnerships in the Asian region increases its military influence in South East Asia. Read the rest of this entry »
Gender differences have arisen not because of sex difference but due to social image. Feminists define gender as a set of characteristics that showcase masculinity and femininity. Gender is a structure that gives unequal power in relationships between man and women, whilst masculine characteristics are usually more valued than feminine.
After Aung San Kyi won the by-elections in Myanmar, the issue of gender in the world of politics has come into picture. Most definitely; gender equality in Asia. Thailand also has a female Prime Minister HE Yingluck Shinawatra. What are the roles these women play in the international political community and how do they influence other women?
There are different theories that explain feminism and why women are subordinates. There are the liberals, the Marxists, socialists, the post colonialists and post structuralism.
I think that the most important aspect defining and defying feminism is religion. It is the most controversial topic on gender equality. Hinduism, Islam and Christianity are the religions that most notably are considered to oppress women and influence gender inequality. However, I have not taken religion into consideration into this blog. Why? Because it is a choice made by people to have a certain religion and live to the standards of it.
In addition to religion, culture and state policies also play a big role, especially in some Asian countries. It is the right of a woman to be subservient if she wishes to. Indonesia has the practice of ibuism. This is described as the practice of being the companion of the husband, procreator of the nation, mother and educator of the children. The state practically brainwashes the community that women have to practice ibuism. These women do it with pride and are glad to serve their community by educating the man. They look forward to be the perfect wife and have the perfect family. This for them is seen as being successful.
I am usually an advocate of gender equality and think that females should have the same rights as males. However, during my research on this topic, I realized that man and woman will never be seen as equal. Not because they are not, but simply because it is a matter of culture and perspectives. It is the lens trough which we see women and their role and the paradigms we have that creates inequality. Many women are well educated but decide to serve their family. Others decide to be part of a certain religion and are happy with it.
Yes, we should have the same human rights as advocated by the UN, but we also have to take into account that democracy and capitalism are not the only answer.
As a believer in the law of attraction, I think that any woman can achieve anything that she wants as long as she truly wants it.
Panic in Indonesia, queues at the petrol stations in order to stock up on cheap fuel while they still can.
Why are Indonesians all of a sudden stocking up on fuel? The Indonesian fuel prices are not dictated by the notion of the world market. Prices are kept affordable by the government in the form of subsidies.
Motorists queue to stock up on fuel at a petrol station
The subsidies of the Indonesian government cover a certain percentage of the fuel costs which allows the government to offer a stable and reasonable fuel price to its inhabitants. Of course this suggests the opposite of panic about fuel prices. Current events however, suggested by the Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Jero Wacik, announced a plan to increase prices in April by up to 33 per cent. Read the rest of this entry »
A couple of months ago Asianowblog.com reported about their personal indentations after visiting Kerobokan Prison located near Kuta, Bali, Indonesia. This very same prison now again appeared in the news, because of rioting inmates.
The violence is believed to be triggered by an act of retaliation by unidentified gang members after a convict was stabbed. During the uprising the rioting prisoners hurled rocks at guards, set fire to an office and took control of the prison over night. At dawn 100 members of police and military forces squalled the prison and believed to took over charge, but reportedly the unrest continued as well on the following night when again inmates “started throwing rocks and petrol bombs at around 10 pm”, Kerobokan prison police told the BBC. The results of the riot are prisoners who suffered burn injuries and injuries in the legs from rubber bullets the police used to bring the unrest to an end. Read the rest of this entry »
“I truly believe that the American consumer does not want to buy products made in abusive conditions.”, Phillip H. Knight co-founder and former director of Nike.inc once said to defend and partly acknowledge past abuses of its profit driven company. This statement was forced by growing demands from non-governmental organizations and outcries from helpless workers. That gave Mr. Knight no choice but to react before the company’s reputation took any more damage, promising to pay minimum wages, improve working conditions, abolish slave-like child labor, and many more issues (back in 1998).
English Football star Wayne Rooney might not “just do it” with the same enthusiasm for 2 USD a day.
People line up for visiting hours at Kerobokan Prison where the Bali Nine and other Australians are held in Bali, Indonesia.
For study experience and a broader view on foreign policies the International Protocol And Diplomatic studies (IPAD) went to visit the Kerobokan Prison located near Kuta Bali Indonesia. Quite a thing visiting a prison, most of us had even never set foot in a western prison. Brave, but uncertain what to expect, we left our safe hotel towards the prison. Waiting in front of a very unwelcoming door one begins to observe. These people are wives with young children, girlfriends, mothers waiting to see their husband, father, boyfriends, and sons. Why did we go here again? Then there is doubt, a feeling that to some extent you’re guilty of some sort of doom tourism.
There were some arrangements with a guard, who however, was nowhere to be found upon our arrival. After living in Indonesia you learn never to give up, and so we didn’t. While a long conversation ensued the situation started to look more and more uncertain while the minutes passed by, the taxi driver jumped in to help out. As it turned out someone he knows is serving time for drug possession. Suddenly the whole situation swiftly turned around and after giving the guards an ID card, we were issued with special visitor ID tags. Other visitors had to settle with a stamp, the visitor ID tags gave us more freedom to walk around and the visiting hours were not applicable. Read the rest of this entry »