News Weekending 10/08/08

A great way to start off the week is with politics. Former president Megawati Soekarnoputri and her Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) would sweep to victory in both the legislative and the first-round presidential elections if they were held today, according to a new survey. Maybe second time around Mega will do a good job if elected and left alone to the run the country without all the interference she suffered last time. Other good news is the Dutch tourists who pitched in to help rebuild the damaged school buildings in Baturraden district, Banyumas regency, Central Java. Through the Tileng Foundation, the tourists have contributed a total of Rp 600 million (US$66,600) to renovate state elementary school Kemutug Lor I’s buildings, give extra allowances to teachers and provide scholarships for needy students. But it’s not all good news. We are learning that the number of the Sumatran orangutans is now in such serious decline that it is going to take extraordinary efforts to save the species from total annihilation. A new study published in a leading international conservation journal called Oryx, which analyses the loss of natural forest, shows that only about 6,500 orangutans now remain on the island. It also cites similar problems facing the species in neighbouring Borneo. Even more disturbing is the Indonesian villagers who threatened on Tuesday to poison rare wild elephants that are destroying their palm oil plantations in search of food. Stuff the plantations. The environment and its wildlife are far more important. Apparently, the residents are so angry they have said they will put poison around the plantation areas to kill the elephants unless officials take quick action.

Australia and Indonesia have agreed to start a working holiday visa scheme. Australian Immigration Minister Chris Evans said the two countries had finalised an agreement to establish a working holiday visa scheme, similar to one already in place between Australia and numerous other countries. So, when are they going to introduce the 120 day visa for tourists they promised, or was that, suggested?

Interesting that books banned under the Soeharto regime are no on sale in the country. The Indonesian translations of Mein Kampf and Das Kapital are now openly available to buy and read, following an announcement from the Attorney General’s Office on Wednesday that the two books were no longer banned. The books were perceived by former president Soeharto’s authoritarian New Order regime to contain ultranationalistic and communist teachings.

Now this is a big-time crime against our fellow creatures. Last week Indonesian police seized 14 tons of frozen Malayan pangolins—a kind of scaly anteater—bound for China and arrested more than a dozen suspected smugglers, conservationists announced Tuesday. The July 30 warehouse raid in Palembang on the island of Sumatra is the latest sign of China’s skyrocketing demand for pangolin meat, blood, and scales. Shoot the damn criminals I say. Something just as disgusting is pollution. The thickening haze that is darkened the skies over parts of Sumatra disrupted flight schedules at the airports in Padang and Palembang. Local stations of the Meteorology and Geophysics Agency (BMG) issued warnings about the thickening haze, caused by the forest fires that have broken out in several places in South Sumatra, Jambi and Riau over the past few days.

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