News in Brief – Week Ending 15/06/08

Let’s start with the illegal fishing that has become rife in the waters of North Sulawesi and the fish poaching has inflicted a loss of Rp462 billion to the state in 2008. Apparently, many vessels carrying foreign flags have been committing illegal fishing and they are difficult to identify and apprehend as the Head of the Provincial Maritime and Fishery Office, Xandramaya Lalu, said. In reality it is hard to patrol the numerous waters around Indonesia but something has to be done because it is taking food out of the mouths of Indonesians. Yeah, I know there are a lot of fish but, let’s keep the fish stocks up for future generations. While we are on ocean matters, Indonesia has launched two tsunami alert buoys with U.S. help to boost an early warning system for a country worst hit by the 2004 killer wave. The devices are part of a 22-buoy system planned for the Indian Ocean, he said in a statement. These buoys have been sorely needed for a very long time and it is heartening to see some action at last.

Now, this is something I find quite alarming. Twenty-one children under the age of five have died from malnutrition in East Nusa Tenggara during the past six months of this year, more than double the figure recorded last year, according to a local health office. He continued to say that poverty was the main cause of malnutrition. Brilliant deduction Holmes!. And even more alarming are that the Police in Tampan, on the outskirts of Greater Pekanbaru, Riau province, have detained 10 police officers held responsible for the escape of eight inmates from detention last week. Sr. Comr. Arifin of the Greater Pekanbaru Police said here on Wednesday that 10 low-ranking police officers were detained because they were on duty when the inmates broke out of detention. Definitely no comment on this one. Let’s cruise across to the other side of the archipelago to East Timor which gained formal independence in 2002 after a long history of occupation under Portugal and Indonesia. Its birthrate of 7.7 children per woman is one of the highest in the world, the United Nations says. And for the people of such a poor country, where jobs are scarce, that is both a blessing and a curse. This is a case of what happens when you have too much time on your hands!

Here’s a story of a troublesome group. Bands of starving monkeys have destroyed crops around Indonesia’s famous Borobudur Buddhist temple in search of food their habitat can no longer supply. The population of monkeys has exploded due to dwindling predators, but drought has led to food shortages. The monkeys have stolen crops and destroyed about 990 acres (400 hectares) of farmland including around the 7th-century Buddhist temple complex of Borobudur outside the sultanate of Yogyakarta. In the old days when I wanted to go to Madura Island I enjoyed boarding the ferry for the long trip. That will soon be a thing of the past. The construction of the Suramadu (Surabaya-Madura) bridge which will be the longest one in the country – is now 82 percent completed and is expected to be ready for use in March or April 2009, a public works official said. Costing a total of 4.528 trillion rupiah (about 503 million U.S. dollars) the bridge will be almost 5.5 km long and span a narrow channel between East Java’s provincial capital of Surabaya and Madura Island. Nah, give me the ferry any day!.

The big lad from Oz, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, has been in town and we all know he is shit-hot as far as the environment is concerned. Si, it’s no wonder that Indonesia has secured pledges from Australia in various areas, including in relation to the forest carbon market and education. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Rudd signed the joint Forest Carbon Partnership agreement at Merdeka Palace on Friday, and agreed to develop a roadmap for access to international carbon markets. Good to see co-operation on all fronts in South-East Asia.

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