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News in Brief – Week Ending 13/04/08

Sobering start to the week with East Timorese pro-integration leader Eurico Guterres eventually walking free from the Cipinang maximum-security jail. You should remember this guy. He received enough media coverage during the murderous rampage after the elections in East Timor. Gutteres was proven guilty by the Central Jakarta District Court of serious human rights violations in East Timor in the post referendum period in 1999. So, the dude was sentenced to 10 years in prison, and sent to Cipinang jail in 2006. Let’s hope he is rehabilitated. It is said that incarceration does a lot to a person. No doubt we will soon find out.

May as well have a laugh so early in the piece with the Malaysian and Indonesian governments expected to sign the long-awaited memorandum of understanding in June to tackle haze-related problems affecting the region. The signing would see the implementation of zero-burning techniques, an early-warning system, and peatland management activities in collaboration with various stakeholders in Riau. It’s heartwarming to see neighbouring countries agreeing on such important matters, and they are, but someone should tell the farmers about the agreement. After all, it is them that raise the hell-fire and smoke from the back of the land. You can tell a farmer that there is zero-burning but he won’t listen because they are hardworking folk eking out a living off the land. A related article tells of the annual haze over Southeast Asia caused by forest fires in Indonesia expected to worsen this year due to changing weather patterns.Yes, Global Warming is upon us. Anyway, various ministers have noted that Indonesia’s anti-pollution efforts and wetter weather conditions caused by the La Nina phenomenon – the abnormal cooling of sea temperatures in the Pacific Ocean – had helped suppress the haze problem last year. Wake up!. It’s only going to get worse!!

Crazy news of the week has to go to the Indonesian government’s purchase of three Russian-made Sukhoi jet fighters to back up the country’s existing warplanes. A senior military official was quoted as saying the three Sukhoi fighter planes from Russia are expected to arrive in the country before the National Armed Forces Day on October 5. Doesn’t anybody in the government know the track record of Russian built planes. On a slightly crazier note, a Tokyo-based travel agency that gave about 14 million yen to a Japanese man involved in a scandal over the issuance of visas by the Indonesian Embassy in Tokyo, was granted a monopoly on selling forms for proxy applications for the visas for at least three years. The man, 50, was in charge of issuing visas at the Indonesian Embassy. Huh?. As if it was that easy to get visas in other countries.

You have to admire the initiatives put forward by the Indonesian government. Realising that Indonesia is the most inefficient nation in consuming energy, the government is launching an intensive campaign to promote the use of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) in households in order to save kerosene amid increasing oil prices in the world market. As part of the campaign, the government is distributing gas cylinders for free to economically-weak families across the country which is reputedly the most inefficient in energy consumption.

In an attempt to stop prostitution at massage parlours, a city administration in Indonesia’s East Java province has issued an order obliging masseuses to wear locked chastity belts, local media reports said Thursday. But the new requirement has sparked controversy with Indonesia’s State Minister for Women’s Empowerment, Meutia Hatta, who opposed the policy on grounds that it insults women. And, while on the subject of matters in light of fornication, a recent article in a UK newspaper says that the vast majority of teenagers in the world’s most populous Muslim country visit pornography sites when they should be studying according to the Women’s Minister of Indonesia. In 2006, some 80 percent of youth aged 15 to 17 were prone to access websites containing hardcore pornography, and most of them access the websites while they are studying. Somebody should tell the minister concerned that this is now 2008!.

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