News in Brief – Week Ending 11/05/08

No crazy news to start the week but instead, sad news. A report by the Center for Orangutan Protection says just 20,000 of the endangered primates remain in the tropical jungle of Central Kalimantan, down from 31,300 in 2004. If the government does not protect wildlife from commercial exploitation, illegal logging and poachers, orangutans there could be extinct by 2011. More than 5,000 orangutans in the region have been lost every year since 2004, due largely to loss of habitat. Of course, one of the perepetrators of the demise of these beautiful creatures is palm oil. Indonesia, the world’s biggest palm oil producer, plans to take firm measures aimed at ensuring palm oil firms meet stringent standards before labelling their products as eco-friendly. The rapidly expanding palm oil industry in Southeast Asia has come under attack by green groups for destroying rainforests and wildlife, as well the emission of greenhouse gases. Another problem having an affect on Orangutans is climate change. Many of these tropical creatures are living at the edge of their temperature tolerance already. I was stunned to learn that even the slight tropical warming predicted by 2100 — 5.4 degrees F (3 degrees C) — could push them to the brink.

Indonesia does have its woes with the environment and its natural resources. It seems the country has been losing 16 billion dollars every year in these resources since 2004. Based on a report received from the Ministry of Maritime and Fisheries, the theft included illegal logging, fish poaching, drug and human trafficking. Things are going from bad to worse for Indonesia with strikes at most of the airports around the country. Employees representatives said There has been no agreement to address our demands. The strikes hit Sepinggan Airport in Balikpapan, Frans-Kaisiepo Airport in Biak, Hasanuddin Airport in Makassar, Sam Ratulangi Airport in Manado and Pattimura Airport in Ambon. This was just another thorn in the side when when employees of Adisutjipto airport in Yogyakarta, Central Java, joined the strike on Friday. Isn’t it strange that Nugurah Rai International in Bali hasn’t been strike-bound.

The president is getting worried that poor people in Indonesia will miss out on digital technology and there is a real danger that the world’s poor will be virtually excluded from the emerging knowledge-based global economy, with dire consequences to global peace and security. He was quoted as saying that in Indonesia… we can ill afford a digital divide across and within communities. There is a threat to national unity that we must effectively manage. He said the world’s most populous Muslim country was rolling out digital technologies as fast as it could but there were still millions of people in the vast archipelago who have no access to computers or the Internet. Somebody in the government forgot to tell him that most of the smaller islands don’t have electricity yet!.

And finally, the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) receives three to four reports or complaints on perceived human right abuses from members of the Indonesian public every day or more than 100 per month. The complaints come from individuals or non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in all parts of the country and vary widely in substance with most of the cases related to conflicts over natural resources and agrarian matters. There were also a relatively high number of reports on acts of violence by police, he said. In the period February 2007 – February 2008, for instance, the commission received about 100 reports on police brutality.

And Folks, that’s the news that is the news from around the archipelago this week, or at least, that what is worth mentioning!.