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News Weekending 27/07/08

Let’s start the news off this week with a surprising poll. Results of an online survey conducted by international magazine TravelWeekly listed the resort island of Boracay in Western Visayas as the best leisure destination in Asia, beating other favorites such as Bali in Indonesia and Sanya in China. That has to be a slap in the face for Bali which for years has enjoyed top position as number one island to visit. Something just as unusual is the interference (that’s how I look at it) of Indonesia’s shadow puppetry performances bring given modern makeover by translating it in English. Shadow puppetry, or wayang, has been drawing crowds for over half a millennium with its distinctly Indonesian music, intricately carved protagonists, riots of color and plots based on ancient fables with their moral messages or stories from religious texts, such as the Ramayana.

Indonesian police questioned a man on Tuesday on suspicion of murdering his gay lover and at least four other people. Verry Henyanksyah was arrested last week after a dismembered male body was found in a suitcase in the capital. I’m not buying into that one!. Bizarre as it seems and revolting as murder is, there must have been underlying factors for this to occur.

Prosecutors argued that Garuda pilot Marwoto Komar deliberately crashed the Boeing 737-400 that ended up in a fireball off the runway at Yogyakarta, central Java, last year, killing 21 people, including five Australians. We have read a lot about this but maybe the truth is finally coming out. A National Transportation Safety Committee report handed down late last year found that Captain Marwoto had failed to correct a “hot” landing profile during the final several kilometres of his approach to the airport on a routine Jakarta-Yogyakarta dawn commuter run. That wasn’t funny, but this is. Villagers near a West Lampung national park have been living in fear since two tigers were released into the park last Monday. Apparently, West Lampung Regent Mukhlis Basri called on the Forestry Ministry on Wednesday to immediately resettle 164 families — about 500 people — from a village near a national park where two male Sumatran tigers were released back into the wild. Reminds me of that saying – “Head for the hills!”

On the environment front, The Papua branch of the World Wide Fund For Nature Indonesia held a demonstration activity on the Reducing Emission from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) scheme in Sentani, Jayapura, from July 23 to 24, 2008. The REDD scheme campaign was aimed at promoting sustainable forest management in Papua. Good idea or bad, just as long as they stop the devastation of forest clearance.

Gay groups, human rights and women groups protested at media bias putting homosexuality in a negative light through association with and negative reporting of a serial murder case allegedly committed by Verry Idham Henryansyah. And, rightly so, because a preference of sexuality is personal and not to be branded. The protesting groups included groups advocating lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender/transsexual rights like Arus Pelangi, Transsexuals Communication Forum, Srikandi Sejati; and women groups like Institute Pelangi Perempuan, Kalyanamitra, Kapal Perempuan, Yayasan Jurnal Perempuan and Koalisi Perempuan. And another group being discriminate is Indonesia’s airlines. The European Commission is urging Indonesia to take corrective measures and increase inspections of all aircraft following its decision to maintain a ban on all the country’s airlines flying to the European Union. The Commission upheld the ban, imposed a year ago, saying Indonesian authorities haven’t implemented an oversight program on airlines under their regulatory control. The original ban followed a series of air crashes in Indonesia since deregulation of the aviation sector in the late 1990s.

Finishing off this week on an odd note. Officials in Cipayung district, East Jakarta, have ordered Pastor Chris Ambessa of the Protestant Church of Indonesia to dismantle the newly constructed second floor of his home and to cease all religious activity in the area. So much for pluralism.

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