Sunday, May 30, 2010

Smoking toddler highlights Indonesia's tobacco addiction

By Alvin Darlanika Soedarjo (AFP) – 23 hours ago

JAKARTA — A new video of a smoking Indonesian toddler has emerged to shock health experts and provide further graphic illustration of the Southeast Asian country's growing addiction to tobacco.

The parents of a two-year-old boy seen smoking in a clip posted on The Sun newspaper's website are to be investigated, Indonesian officials said after the video drew worldwide attention.

Chubby Ardi Rizal laughs and responds to the adults around him as he sits on his plastic tricycle and inhales deeply from frequent drags on a cigarette.

His father reportedly gave him his first cigarette when he was 18 months old and now he smokes 40 a day. His mother says he beats his head against the wall unless he gets nicotine, but his father insists he is "healthy".

Child Protection Ministry official Heru Kasidi said the family would be investigated for what would be considered a clear case of child abuse in many countries.

It's the second time this year Indonesia has been embarrassed by such media coverage.

Another video was posted on the Internet last month showing an Indonesian boy aged about four puffing on a locally made clove cigarette, blowing smoke rings and swearing with the encouragement of adults.

Weak regulations -- Indonesia is the only country in Southeast Asia not to have signed the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control -- have enabled tobacco companies to target young Indonesians with advertising and events promotions.

US singer Kelly Clarkson dropped tobacco sponsorship for her Jakarta concert in April after anti-smoking groups protested on the grounds that she was effectively encouraging her young fans to smoke.

Other artists such as Jamiroquai, Anggun, Incubus and James Blunt have allowed their Indonesian shows to be used as vehicles for tobacco marketing.

Anti-smoking activists and health experts say Indonesia is a paradise for the tobacco industry, which has been aggressively expanding sales in the country of about 240 million people.

"The regulations on the tobacco industry in Indonesia are weak. They protect the shareholders in the industry more than the people," activist Kartono Mohamad said.

"The people in Indonesia are fighting alone against the tobacco industry, the government and the policy makers. It's one against three."

According to the World Health Organisation, cigarette consumption in the Southeast Asian archipelago soared 47 percent in the 1990s.

Almost 70 percent of men over 20 years of age smoke, and regular smoking among boys aged 15 to 19 increased from 36.8 percent in 1997 to 42.6 percent in 2000.

But anti-smoking initiatives have floundered in the face of the powerful local tobacco industry, which employs scores of thousands of people and generates more than six billion dollars a year for the government.

A bill establishing tobacco as an addictive substance was about to be signed into law last year when officials realised the pertinent clause had been mysteriously deleted. The case is under investigation.

The government has increased excise taxes but prices remain extremely low by international standards, with a pack of 20 costing little more than a dollar.

Even so, studies have shown that poor families spend more on cigarettes than on books and education.

In another blow to anti-tobacco activists, lawmakers have strongly opposed a plan to cut cigarette production by five percent to about 248 billion sticks this year on the grounds that it would hurt local producers.

Foreign makers like British American Tobacco and Philip Morris have long recognised the opportunities in Indonesia.

In March, Philip Morris's local unit, PT HM Sampoerna, the country's largest producer, announced a net profit increase of 31 percent to 5.08 trillion rupiah (548.64 million dollars) last year.

In the absence of tough government regulations Muslim clerics recently issued a fatwa against smoking.

But analysts said the religious edict was likely to have about as much effect as regulations banning smoking in bars and restaurants, which are widely ignored.

"More and more Indonesian children have become victims of the cigarette industry," Indonesian Child Protection Commission chairman Hadi Supeno said.

"There are many children under five years of age who have started smoking. A decade ago, the average age of beginner smokers was 19 but a recent study found that the average is seven."

Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved. More »

Bali gets first fibre connection

By Stuart Corner
Saturday, 29 May 2010 11:29

Business IT - Networking
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The Indonesian island of Bali - a hugely popular holiday resort - has gained its first optical fibre link to the rest of the world following completion of a submarine cable connecting it, neighbouring Lombok, Kalimantan and Sulawesi with the main island of Java.

The $US00m, 320Gbps cable with the tongue-challenging name of JaKa2LaDeMa has been installed by Fujitsu in partnership with German company Norddeutsche Seekabelwerke GmbH for PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia (Telkom Indonesia).

According to Fujitsu, "This [system] is particularly important for Bali, which is of key commercial importance to Indonesia. In addition, the interlink within Kalimantan and the Kalimantan-Sulawesi link give businesses and residents not only their first high-bandwidth services, but also ensures the robustness of the entire network in Indonesia."

Fujitsu has provided the overall system design comprising submersible repeaters, branching units, terminals and the associated services including the integration of repeaters with Norddeutsche Seekabelwerke's cables.

Norddeutsche Seekabelwerke provided a full turnkey solution, including survey and route engineering, submarine cable manufacture, marine installation, civil works, including terrestrial cable supply and installation, transmission and commissioning services.

You can say and do whatever you want

Sun, May 30, 2010
New Straits Times

MALAYSIA - Amber Chia is glad she decided to celebrate her big day in Bali with just 45 guests several months ago.

"I was tired of big events, posing for the camera and being in the limelight with paparazzi everywhere. I was determined to make this an enjoyable event with minimum stress, not like the usual fashion shows I'm used to.

"We flew our close friends and family to Sanur, Bali, where we had a 10-day wedding-cum-holiday event."

Chia says they initially had over 8,000 people to invite for their wedding ceremony and reception.

"After we came up with a guest list for a local wedding, we realised that we would not be able to enjoy the day with so many people to entertain. And we were sure the guests would also not feel as special as they should.

"Luckily for me, my parents are very open-minded, so we didn't have any issue in having a destination wedding.

"During my last trip to Bali, my husband proposed to me, so we thought it was the best destination for the ceremony."

With a blue- and white-themed wedding, Chia says it was a perfect beach ceremony.

"It was not glamorous, which was great. I just wanted to have fun without my high heels. I was also surprised that the wedding didn't cost that much; nothing more than S$64,020 (RM150,000).

"We did plan the wedding ourselves with lots of help from our friends. My events and production company, Amber Creations, was also a big part of the wedding arrangements."

She says all her friends were ecstatic with the whole idea of a destination wedding, because it gave them a chance to escape their busy work schedules and city life.

"The best part of a destination wedding for a celebrity is that you can say and do whatever you want, including diving into the ocean, without having to worry about who knows you.

"It's good that there were no major hiccups, just minor things like delayed flights and monkeys stealing sunglasses."

Since her pleasurable experience with a destination ceremony, Chia is considering a career in wedding planning to add another feather in her cap.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Taj Burrow Recharges in Bali During Mid-Season Break

Taj Burrow Recharges in Bali During Mid-Season Break
Posted on Thursday May 27th at 10:03 a.m.

SYDNEY, New South Wales/Australia (Tuesday, May 25, 2010) - The world's best surfers are currently in a the middle of a mid-season break following the completion of the Billabong Pro Santa Catarina and awaiting the commencement of the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay. Some have assaulted Central America, others Indonesia, some have opted to stay home and train, but the verdict is in...these next events are going to be crucial! Taj Burrow (AUS), 31, current ASP World No. 3, headed to Brazil with a healthy lead in the hunt for the ASP World Title, but left in third position. STAB Magazine caught up with the high-flying Western Australian while he was training in Bali. their story...

What's been the most advantageous thing about the break?

The best thing would be not having to think or do anything competitive-wise for a long time. I got a bunch of boards in Bali. Out of five boards, two were really good but I...

* Sends a ripple through your gut don't it? Notice the positioning just beneath the impending scoop. Exquisite. Photo: John Respondek Sends a ripple through your gut don't it? Notice the positioning just beneath the impending scoop. Exquisite. Photo: John Respondek

For full interview, check out STAB's 'Taj Burrow on His Mid-Season Break'

Eat Pray Love author got emotional watching Roberts in film
Press Trust of India
Wednesday, May 26, 2010 (Los Angeles)
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Author Elizabeth Gilbert was moved to tears after she watched Oscar-award-winning actress
portray her in the film based on her novel.

The best selling author watched the movie at a screening with her husband recently and admits it was tough to watch her own epic journey, which she wrote about for Eat Pray Love unfold on the big screen in front of her.

"I'm still all emotional about it... It's essentially like this amazing director and this great actress and this cinematographer got together and made me a home movie of my year's journey, but they photoshopped me out and replaced me with somebody with really amazing skin and 38-inch legs," Gilbert said on the Oprah Winfrey show, while appearing alongside the actress.

Roberts had travelled with her husband and kids to Italy, India and Bali to shoot for the movie, based on the memoirs of Gilbert.

The movie, a Brad Pitt production and directed by Ryan Murphy, tells her story of giving up the New York home, a comfortable life and husband when she realises that she is unhappy with life.

"I was a wreck... What I was watching encapsulated the worst and best time of my life condensed down into two hours, so I came out of it shaken, amazed, delighted, tearful. I went home, drank two bottles of wine and went to bed at eight o'clock... It was a lot to see it all unfold," Gilbert said.

Read more at:

Toxic brew kills at least eight in Bali

May 26, 2010 - 3:44PM

SUTD Singapore

Scholarships are available World Class Curriculum


Australians in Bali should avoid drinking palm and rice wine after a toxic home brew killed at least eight locals.

Sanglah Hospital spokesman Putra Wibawa said the first victim died after drinking the traditional liquor, known as arak, in Kuta on May 16.

"Eight have died and five are still under treatment," Wibawa told AAP.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Indonesian Tourism Chiefs Claim Bali Has Benefited From Thai Unrest

The long-running political crisis in Thailand appears to have had a positive spin-off for Bali’s tourism industry, with more foreign tourists than usual visiting the island, the head of the Bali Tourism Office said on Sunday.

Ida Bagus Subhiksu said the number of foreign tourists visiting the island in the first quarter of the year had reached 551,186, up 18.49 percent compared to the same period last year.

“This is amazing because usually it does not go up this drastically,” he said.

Bali’s image as a secure holiday destination has still not fully recovered following the two terrorist bomb attacks on the island in 2002 and 2005, but tourist arrivals are on the upswing, Subhiksu said.

“Bali has risen again. Even Australians, who accounted for the most casualties [in the bombings], now account for the largest number of visitors to Bali, besides Chinese and Japanese,” he said.

Bali Tourism Board chairman Ida Bagus Ngurah Wijaya said the diversion of foreign tourists from Thailand to Bali had become noticeable early this year, with Australians making up the bulk of tourists opting for the Indonesian island instead of Thailand, followed by tourists from several European countries, particularly France and the Netherlands.

International tourist arrivals at Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport increased steadily over the first three months of the year — from 199,887 arrivals in January to 213,456 in February and 217,253 in March.

“This is, of course, good news for Bali tourism,” said Muhammad Dimyati, a spokesman for PT Angkasa Pura, the operator of Ngurah Rai Airport.

The increase has also been good news for hotels, especially those in the main tourist areas of Kuta and Sanur.

“The [occupancy] rate at the moment is 91 percent. This is just amazing,” said Made Sumawati, public relations manager for Inna Kuta Beach Hotel, adding that last year the hotel only had a 68 percent occupancy rate.

He said most of the tourists were from Australia and were staying up to a week on the island on average.

Dimyati said with Bali’s popularity on the rebound, a number of foreign airlines were planning to start flying to the island in the near future.

“In June, Strategic Airlines will be ready to open a route to Bali, followed by Vietnam Airlines next year,” he said.

The worst political violence in Thailand in at least 18 years has been deterring travel to the country. At least 43 countries have warned their citizens against visiting parts of Thailand during the standoff in Bangkok that began in March.

Workers at Thailand’s Phuket resort area say the fighting may have been more damaging to tourism than the 2004 tsunami that wrecked its coastline. Tourism accounts for 70 percent of Phuket’s economy.

Additional reporting by Bloomberg

US Govt Says Obama Arriving June 14, But Indonesian Officials Can’t Confirm

US Govt Says Obama Arriving June 14, But Indonesian Officials Can’t Confirm
Camelia Pasandaran & Ismira Lutfia

President Barack Obama’s long-awaited return to Indonesia is scheduled for June 14, the US State Department announced on its Web site, but officials in Jakarta couldn’t confirm the date.

Presidential spokesman Dino Patti Djalal said on Tuesday that the palace did not yet know when Obama would arrive. “So I can’t comment on others’ statement about it,” he said, adding that the comprehensive partnership agreement Obama and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono were due to sign during the visit was still being drafted. “It’s not final yet so I can’t tell you the details. We will announce it ahead of the visit.”

US Embassy spokesman Paul Belmont said “no exact dates have been announced, just mid-June.”

Foreign Ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah said it was unclear whether Indonesia or Australia would be Obama’s first stop on his trip to the region.

He added that he was unsure whether migrant workers issues would be part of the partnership agreement. “But it is an important issue for our country and we share common concerns on human trafficking,” he said.

Visiting last week, US Under Secretary of State Maria Otero met with officials and representatives of international nonprofit organizations working to combat trafficking here.

Obama’s visit to Indonesia, where he spent a few years of his childhood, had initially been set for March but was postponed so he could focus on pushing a landmark health reform bill through US Congress.

It was not known whether first lady Michele Obama and their two daughters would also come.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Census: Indonesia Grows by 3m a Year

Census: Indonesia Grows by 3m a Year

Indonesia’s population is continuing to grow rapidly, expanding by 30 million in the past decade, preliminary results of the national census show.

The world’s fourth largest nation now numbers an estimated 235 million to 240 million people, Central Statistics Agency head Rusman Heriawan revealed on Monday.

With about 90 percent of the monthlong national census now completed, Rusman said the agency, better known as the BPS, believed the population would not top 240 million.

“The number of Indonesian people is between 235 and 240 million,” he said on the sidelines of a food security conference.

The last national population census in 2000 put the population at 205 million, while the best estimates for 2009 were around 231 million, he said. The figures mean the nation has added three million people a year.

“We have to make new projections based on the census, such how to compose a food security strategy in regard to demand for rice, corn, beef and so on. We can no longer use the current data, but should make a prediction based on the population 10 years ahead,” Rusman said.

Opening the conference, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said Indonesia should be aware of the impact on food stocks of the fast-growing population.

“The population needs food,” he said. “Meanwhile, around the world there is an increase in the number of middle-class people, who consume more food. Growing demand is not only caused by population growth but also the rise in their [prosperity] levels.”

A population of 235 million this year would mean the annual population growth rate has averaged 1.4 percent over the past decade, while 240 million would mean an average annual growth rate of 1.6 percent.

Home Affairs Minister Gamawan Fauzi said the rapid population growth showed the country’s family planning program, remarkable for having successfully reined in an explosive population rise during the three decades under President Suharto, was no longer effective.
“Our family planning program is not running well, especially in outer regions,” Gamawan said.

Suharto’s program was internationally recognized as having pushed down the population growth rate to 1.6 percent by 1996 from 2.3 percent at its inception in 1972. The end of Suharto’s highly centralized government in 1998 was followed by decentralization, which also resulted in a waning emphasis on family planning.

“Probably people have already forgotten the family planning program,” Rusman said.

He said another aspect highlighted by the preliminary results was that migration patterns were changing. The largest migration levels were recorded in cities such as Denpasar, Manokwari in Papua, Mamuju in West Sulawesi, Batam and Pekanbaru in Riau.

“Denpasar and Manokwari have become migration destinations as they are provincial capitals,” Rustam said. “Developing districts and cities such as Mamuju, Batam and Pekanbaru are also becoming target destinations. Regional autonomy has significantly changed the map of the Indonesian people.”

The census is due to be completed by May 31.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Surf's up in Kuta for the Reef Bali Pro 2010 contest

Anyone who enjoys kicking back and watching the waves roll in may want to head to Kuta for the Reef Bali Pro 2010 surfing contest next month.

PR Log (Press Release) – May 19, 2010 – People staying in accommodation in Kuta ( during June will find that the local beaches provide some great entertainment.

From June 21st to 26th, the surf breaks around Kuta will play host to some of the best surfers on the Indonesian tour for the Indonesian Surfing Championship (ISC) Reef Bali Pro 2010 competition.

It is the third event in the ISC calendar and marks the halfway point of the championship for this year.

Pepen Hendrik triumphed at Rusty's Rumble In Da Jungle, which was held earlier this month at Rangkan Beach.

Visitors to Kuta can look forward to some exciting surf tricks out on the waves, as well as other activities to keep them occupied.

Film buffs could make time to watch a showing of the latest surfing movie to be produced by Reef, entitled Cancer To Capricorn.

It follows the Reef surf team travelling between the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn in search of the perfect waves.

As well as plenty of surfing action, audiences will also be able to see the team as they seek out new cultural experiences along the way.

The movie had its world premiere at the Newport Beach Film Festival in the event's Action Sports Film Series in April.

Posted by Delia Jones

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Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has finally postponed Thailand Travel Mart

TTM+ postponed but not cancelled
By Reinhard Hohler, Chiang Mai (22.05.2010)

According to only a small notice in today's Bangkok Post Business Section, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has finally postponed Thailand Travel Mart Plus (TTM+) 2010 that was scheduled to be held on June 2-4 in Bangkok at IMPACT Muang Thong Thani.

Mr. Prakit Piriyakiat, Deputy Governor for Marketing Communications, said that the annual trade show would be put off until conditions in the capital returned to normal.

TAT officials are due to meet private-sector operators on Tuesday next week in order to estimate damages and revise tourism promotion plans in line with the current situation.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Census takers find the world oldest woman alive -145 years

Census takers find the world oldest woman alive – in Riau Province!


Initially the census takers thought nothing about the year of birth recorded for a woman they interviewed in the village of Bukit Batrem village in Dumai Timor subdistrict.
However when the information was passed to the head office in Dumai it was noticed that her year of birth, 1865, makes her 145 years old!

They then sent a special team to visit the woman to try to verify the year of birth.

They interviewed her younger sister, whose age was listed as 98 and her adopted daughter, who is listed as being 70 years old.

Although there are no official records verifying her year of birth, from the information given, the investigators concluded that the evidence suggests that she is indeed 145 years old as she claims.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Don't just beach bum in Bali

Wanderlust magazine:
Category: Lifestyle

Category: Lifestyle magazines

Title: Wanderlust magazine

Wanderlust travel magazine has issued some advice for those heading to Bali this year - don't just waste your time on the beach.

While the destination offers some of the most attractive seaside locations in Indonesia, the publication revealed that there is much more to see and do.

Popular beach spots include Kuta and Lovinia, but Wanderlust commercial editor Paul Bloomfield suggested that visitors shun these in favour of a trip inland.

He pointed to Ubud as a great place to visit for a "dose of culture", while the more intrepid traveller may also enjoy a hike around the central volcanoes.

The destination has enjoyed a 15 per cent rise in visitor numbers in the first three months of the year, according to Bali Tourism Board chairman Ngurah Wijaya.

He told a Tempo Interactive reporter that he expects Bali to profit from increased popularity as a result of the political instability in Thailand.

However, Mr Bloomfield said: "Bali isn't trying to be Thailand, despite similarities in the attractions for travellers.

"Culturally, it's a world apart from Thailand, being largely Hindu, and with distinctive art, music and architectural styles."

Posted by Arabella Gibson

Would you rather see the real Bali or sit on a beach?ADNFCR-2767-ID-19790746-ADNFCR

POSTED 12:00 AM 20/05/2010 0 comments

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Thailand in Trouble, Tourists Turn to Bali

Wednesday, 19 May, 2010 | 13:34 WIB
TEMPO Interactive, Denpasar:The Thai political crisis could profit Bali.

The indication of the increase in tourist number occurred between January-April and reaches 15 percent compared to the same period last year.

“The cause of the increase is because the Thai condition is making tourists divert their travel itineraries,” said Bali Tourism Board Chairman Ngurah Wijaya, Monday (17/5).

Bali could expect a high increase of tourist numbers because Thailand’s characteristics are very similar to Bali, a destination of beaches and cultural richness.

Tourist arrivals reach 6,000 persons per day even though it is not yet the holiday season.

But, according to Wijaya, the impact would only be felt in June for tourists from Australia and July-August for European tourists.

At this time, they are still monitoring the possibility of tourist diverting their destination from Thailand.

Wijaya considered that the impact would not be that big if the crisis could be solved immediately.

Moreover, crises in the country does not lead to anarchic activity like Indonesia in 1998.

Besides that, Thai tourism is not only centered in Bangkok but also other area with equal international flight access.

Meanwhile, The Head of Bali Travel Association, Al Purwa, said that Thai crisis would have a positive impact.

But they do not dare to increase travel or hotel prices yet because hotel occupancy rate is still below 70 percent.

“It is still low season, so we wait for the right moment,” he said.

But he hoped that the government and tourism association is ready to conduct promotion so it could be an alternative tourist’s destination.



Thailand's so-called Red Shirt protest leaders said they are formally ending their anti-government protest

BANGKOK—Thailand's so-called Red Shirt protest leaders said they are formally ending their anti-government protest and will surrender to authorities to prevent more deaths.

The announcement came after the army overran their heavily barricaded encampment in central Bangkok on Wednesday.

Seven Red Shirt leaders went on stage in the core protest zone to announce their decision, which was greeted with shouts of dismay from the men and women gathered around.

Protest leader Natawut Saikua said ``we have done our best.'' Weng Tojirakarn said ``we want to prevent further losses of our Red Shirt brothers and sisters.''

He said ``let us first prevent further losses of lives,'' and urged supporters to leave the area.
Barricade Down

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Fayaz Kabli/Reuters

An armored vehicle broke through a barricade during an operation to evict anti-government "red shirt" protesters from their encampment in Bangkok Wednesday.

Hundreds of soldiers armed with semiautomatic rifles gathered on streets leading to the protesters' encampment, witnesses and television reports said. Demonstrators lit kerosene-soaked tires, shrouding parts of the city in thick plumes of smoke.

Troops occupied a highway overpass overlooking the camp and were seen firing sporadic shots into the camp. Others fired from the tracks of an elevated-rail network they used as a vantage point.

Thai Bankers' Association said Thailand's four biggest banks would close their branches in Bangkok and on its outskirts early Wednesday because of the growing unrest. Bangkok Bank PCL, Kasikornbank PCL, Siam Commercial Bank and Krung Thai Bank would all close at 1 p.m. local time, the association's chairman, Prasarn Trairatvorakul, said. Bond dealers said bond trading would also end early.

At the entrance to Silom Road, Thailand's equivalent of Wall Street, troops turned water cannons on protesters in a bid to disperse them and began tearing down a barricade constructed from tires and sharpened bamboo staves. An armored tank repeatedly rammed the barrier, breaching what the Red Shirts call their "liberated zone."

Many of the protesters defending the barricade retreated to the main Red Shirt camp less than a mile north, witnesses said. At least two people were shot and injured, Reuters reported.

Korbsak Sabhavasu, the main government negotiator and a secretary-general in the prime minister's office, confirmed that talks to end the standoff had collapsed.

People familiar with the negotiations between the two sides said the biggest problem was the main Red Shirt leaders' inability to control hard-core demonstrators on the edges of the rally site.

Fears are growing that the military's push could lead to an intensified conflict in coming days. In a televised address, government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said the army operation is designed to tighten a security cordon around the demonstrators' main camp and would continue throughout the day.

"Brothers and sisters, wake up! The crackdown is beginning," yelled one speaker on the Red Shirt stage.

Gen. Lertrat Rattanavanich, a senator involved in trying to rescue negotiations between protesters and the government, said on Thai TV that efforts to re-start talks had failed. "I think this will be the final clash," he said. "If the protest leaders don't surrender, the losses could be huge."

At least 39 people have been killed and more than 300 injured since Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's government on Thursday ordered army troops to end the monthslong antigovernment protest.

The Red Shirts, many of them followers of ousted populist leader Thaksin Shinawatra, were demanding immediate elections to recalibrate a political system that they say has been manipulated by powerful military officers and bureaucrats.

Their protest began peacefully on March 12, when tens of thousands of people flowed into Bangkok after Thai courts confiscated $1.4 billion of Mr. Thaksin's family fortune. The court ruled that much of the wealth had been amassed through corruption—a ruling Mr. Thaksin decried as evidence of a political conspiracy against him following the 2006 coup that removed him as prime minister.
Uproar in Thailand

Key political events in Thailand since 2006

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On Lockdown

See what sections of Bangkok have been shut down by anti-government protesters.

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Key Players

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* More photos and interactive graphics

* China Real Time: Thai Turmoil Resonates in China
* Rogue General Dies, More Violence Feared
* Once-Stable Thailand Close to Unraveling
* Earlier: Thai Protesters Seek Fresh Talks
* Martial Mood Settles Over Protest
* Thai Unrest Puts Army in a Tight Spot
* Thai Army Works to Remove Thousands of Red Shirts
* Protesters React to Election Proposal
* Bangkok: A City Under Siege
* Inside Thai Protesters Camp

But in recent weeks, as the demonstrators set up camp in Bangkok's main shopping district, shutting down dozens of hotels and shopping malls, the protests took on a more violent tone. Around the periphery of the main camp, some demonstrators began throwing Molotov cocktails and other improvised-explosive devices at security forces sent in to seal off the protest.

The army used snipers to peg back the protesters in recent days. Witnesses reported and filmed marksmen using rifles with telescopic sights firing on unarmed demonstrators, in some cases shooting them in the head.

Since the government announced its plans to crack down on the protesters on Saturday, the demonstrators had actually expanded their territory, bringing them into regular conflict with security forces assigned to stop the protests from spreading.

Many hard-liners were also angered by the death on Monday of a rogue soldier who had defected to the Red Shirts' cause. Maj. Gen. Khattiya Sawasdipol was shot in the head last Thursday night by unknown assailants, in an apparent assassination attempt.

Maj. Gen. Khattiya and many of his followers have been operating independently of the main protest leaders, who include lawmaker Jatuporn Prompan and activists Nattawut Saikua and Weng Tojirakarn.

Maj. Gen. Khattiya, in particular, had his own lines of communication to Mr. Thaksin, who now lives in Dubai in self-imposed exile to avoid imprisonment on a 2008 corruption conviction.

Before he died, Maj. Gen. Khattiya said in an interview that his goal was to turn the Red Shirt protests into a full-blown revolt against the Thai state.

People involved in negotiations to end the protests say Mr. Thaksin had encouraged more militant Red Shirt leaders to continually add fresh demands, effectively delaying talks and a final agreement after Prime Minister Abhisit offered to hold a new election on Nov. 14.

Last week, with scant sign of any progress, the Oxford-educated Mr. Abhisit withdrew his election offer and ordered troops to cordon off the demonstrations.

Mr. Thaksin has described suggestions he had deliberately sabotaged the peace talks in order to provoke a wider uprising that could enable him to return to Thailand as "fiction."
—Oranan Paweewun and Phisanu Phromchanya contributed to this article.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

JCI, Rupiah Strengthen as Worries Over Greece Ease

The Jakarta Composite Index and the rupiah both gained on Tuesday after European finance ministers signaled the debt crisis in Greece would not trigger excessive tightening measures across the continent.

The JCI rose 14.72 points, or 0.5 percent, to close at 2,834.18. Some 4.45 billion shares worth Rp 4.27 trillion ($469.7 million) changed hands. Gainers led decliners 119 to 71.

Leading the JCI’s gain were banking stocks, which had been considered undervalued after recent declines.

“The JCI’s gain was also supported by the rebound in commodity stocks,” said Purwoko Sartono, an analyst at PT Panin Sekuritas. However, Purwoko said the JCI would continue consolidating and in the short-term would continue to be affected by Europe’s debt worries.

The rupiah halted a two-day slide on speculation the central bank was intervening to counter exchange-rate swings that may hurt the economy. It traded at Rp 9,109 against the dollar on Tuesday at stock market close, compared to Rp 9,142 on Monday.

“Bank Indonesia is guarding the rupiah so that it isn’t volatile,” said Muhammad Fauzi Halim, a foreign-exchange trader at PT Bank Resona Perdania. “If the rupiah appreciates to 9,100, it won’t satisfy the exporters.”

“There’s some breathing space for Asian currencies for now as the bad news in Europe diminishes,” said Mohd Zaki Talib, a foreign-exchange trader at RHB Bank in Kuala Lumpur. “The market is not fully convinced that the worst for the euro is over.”

Among the gainers, PT Bank Mandiri rose 2.8 percent, PT Bank Central Asia gained 1.9 percent and PT Bank Danamon climbed 2.9 percent.

Coal miner PT Bumi Resources added 2.1 percent after it was reported that its subsidiary, PT Bumi Resources Mineral, would sell as much as 30 percent of its equity in an initial public offering in September to raise $600 million.

PT Indika Energy, Indonesia’s third-largest coal producer, jumped 5.7 percent to Rp 2,775.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Tourist arrivals in Thailand down

By Reinhard Hohler, Chiang Mai (18.05.2010)

According to the latest news on, the intensifying political violence has pounded the country's tourist industry, with arrivals down by about one third, Tourism and Sports Minister Chumpol Silpa-archa said on Tuesday.

The number of incoming passengers at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport had dwindled from an average 30,000 to 20,000 passengers a day, as foreigners were concerned about the widespread chaos and the security situation, Mr Chumpol said.

He said 19 countries had warned their people to avoid visiting Thailand at this time.

"The number of tourists has dropped considerably," the minister said. "The government was hoping that tourism in the South would see a boost, but it is now more difficult as foreigners think that the unrest is occurring nationwide."

On the measures to revive the tourism sector after the political situation stabilises, he said the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has prepared plans to stimulate tourism in the third and fourth quarters of this year.

When the yellow-shirt People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) protesters seized airports in late 2008, the TAT was able to raise the tourist arrivals from 10 million to 14 million that year after it was over, the minister said.

"The government hopes this year's tourist arrivals will reach the target with the time remaining," he said.

Mr Chumpol refused to comment on whether the government would last until the end of this year.

Only foreign retirees can buy landed houses

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Tue, 05/18/2010 9:40 AM | Headlines
A | A | A |

As a response to a growing demand for allowing foreigners to own a property in Indonesia, the Public Housing Ministry says that foreign retirees will be the first to be allowed to fully own a landed house in the country.

Minister Public Housing Suharso Monoarfa said a regulation was now being prepared to allow foreign
retirees to buy landed houses for residence.

The plan was meant to enable retirees to enjoy their retirement, and to get benefits from their stay in Indonesia, he said.

The plan would allow foreign retirees to use bank credits to finance up to 50 percent to pay for the house and to repay with installments over a maximum of three years.

“We want to prevent speculation in the country’s property market,” Suharso was quoted by Kontan business daily as saying.

He, however, said that if the foreigners’ purchase is meant for investment, they will be allowed only to buy apartments on condition that they pay cash, not using bank credits.

Commenting on the plan, property analysts said that these plans were confusing.

“The government’s plan to allow only foreign retirees to buy landed houses is going to mean a difficult task,” Arief Rahardjo of property consulting firm Cushman and Wakefield told The Jakarta Post on Monday. He added it would be very difficult to distinguish between those who wanted to invest and those who wanted to stay in Indonesia.

Chairman of the Real Estate Indonesia association of developers Teguh Satria told the Post that the proposed regulation was still not clear.

“The criteria of elderly or retiree and the considerations behind the plan are not clear yet,” Teguh said.
About the planned requirement for foreigners to pay cash to invest in apartments, Arief said that such a requirement was not hard for foreigners to fulfill because apartment prices in Indonesia were lower than in other countries.

“But how about those who want to use the apartment for residence?” he asked.

The ministry also plans to revise the regulation that allows expatriates ownership for up to 70 years.

At present, foreigners are only allowed to hold leasehold title for 25 years, which can be renewed for 25 years, and then another 20 years.

“We are considering whether we will prolong the leasehold title for expatriates but the tenure will not be 70 years,” he said.

Teguh acknowledged that the 1960 Basic Agrarian Law allowed foreigners to use land for no longer than 70 years, and scrapping the “25-25-20” scheme therefore would be the best possible option.

“It will be easier if we give expatriates the right for 70 years from the beginning,” Teguh said.

Teguh compared the regulation with those in other countries in the region like Malaysia and Singapore, which allowed 99 years of foreign leasehold title.

“This is actually the right time to attract foreigners to buy property in Indonesia since our financial condition is stable,” he said. (not)

If the foreigners’ purchase is meant for investment, they will be allowed only to buy apartments under certain conditions, for cash.

New electric motorcycle hits Bali

The Jakarta Post, Kuta | Mon, 05/17/2010 11:54 AM | Bali
A | A | A |

A type of electric motorcycle that has been introduced to Bali recently has been hailed as an environmentally friendly alternative mode of transportation.

The motorcycle or e-bike is hoped to inspire public transportation operators throughout the country to switch to low-carbon emission vehicles.

Introduced last month by major beverage producer Coca-Cola Amatil Indonesia as part of its corporate social responsibility program, the e-Bike is being used by police officers on Kuta beach and by the company's staff, who had been using petrol-powered motorcycles.

"This electric bike emits 78 percent less carbon than a conventional motorbike," said Sri Purwanto, a corporate social responsibility and sustainability manager at the company.

"Besides, the e-bike is much quieter and easier to control, thus more efficient and safer for the rider.

"After 8 hours of charging, the vehicle can travel up to 70 kilometers at a maximum speed of 40 kilometers per hour. They are also easy to maintain."

He said the company was switching to the new motorcycle to support the energy acceleration project in Bali and to help develop an ecologically responsible tourist destination.

The company's Bali office currently operates three e-Bikes to support its business in popular beach areas.

The company said that in the coming months it expected to introduce more e-Bikes to replace petrol-powered motorcycles in other areas in Indonesia.

"We hope this e-Bike project will encourage other local transport providers and users to move to these solutions in Bali and other heavy traffic areas, such as Jakarta," Purwanto said.

Since 2008, the company has also held a daily cleanup campaign at five major beaches across Bali: Kuta, Legian, Seminyak Kedonganan and Jimbaran.

"We provide three garbage trucks to clean garbage. We also hire 74 officers to clean the beaches everyday from 7 a.m to 2 p.m," Purwanto said.

Nettwerk, Island Taking Songwriters To Bali

May 17, 2010 - Global | Publishing

By Lars Brandle, Brisbane

Sun, surf and the sands of idyllic Bali will be the special ingredients for a master songwriting workshop, dreamt up by executives for Nettwerk Music Group and Island Records Australia.

Pop star Delta Goodrem will join her partner the former Westlife singer Brian McFadden, producer Paul Mac, songwriter Arnthor Birgisson and more than a dozen others later this month for the inaugural writer retreat in Ubud, on the Indonesian island.

"We were looking for a unique combination of songwriters getting together in a unique atmosphere and giving us great songs," explains head of Island Records Australia Michael Taylor, who conceived the project with Peter Coquillard, head of Nettwerk One Music Publishing, the publishing arm of Nettwerk Music Group.

The May 30-June 10 hideaway is set up with all the tools for music-making, whenever and wherever it may happen. The facility has four different demo rooms and there will be demoing equipment under the palm trees.

Away from the mic, snorkeling trips and elephant rides will help the participants find that peaceful, creative mindset. "Hopefully that daily hangout time will create some good stuff," Taylor explains.

Plans are to rekindle the project on an annual basis, and to welcome the presence of artists outside the Nettwerk and Universal Music Group family.

"We hope to achieve several different things; coming up with great songs that will be used for the artists' albums, and perhaps creating songs that may be used for outside cuts," Taylor explains. "And after a week of being social, it might very well lead to possible collaborations in the future.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Airline in $99 fares war to Bali

Editors Note: A new air fare war with air Asia probably means even more poor service from form them. My personal experience flying three times with them was two times was late an average of two hours. If you don't mind hanging around airports take advantage of their low fares.

GEOFFREY THOMAS AVIATION EDITOR, The West Australian May 17, 2010, 4:50 am

AIRASIA X WANTS YOU TO NAME ITS PLANES Name an aircraft to win free flights and have your name immortalised in aviation history X-TERMINATOR of full price airfares AirAsia X wants wordsmiths from every corner of the globe to put on their thinking caps and help them name their planes. The rapidly expanding budget airline currently operates three aircraft and has a further 23 A330s and one A340s on order. It is calling on the global community to come up with some X-treme names as part of a naming competition for their new aircraft. Candidates who submit names chosen by AirAsia X receive free return airfares to anywhere on the AirAsia X network, which now includes Stansted London as well as Gold Coast, Perth, Melbourne and Hangzhou routes. Winning wordsmiths will have their personal names immortalised on the aircraft - inside the body and outside the cabin. AirAsia X CEO Azran Osman-Rani wants AirAsia X aircraft names to reflect the airline's 'X' factor. "In many ways, the X in AirAsia X is a perfect symbol depicting, in a singular, powerfully emotive letter, the x-tremely challenging context, x-citing product and x-traordinary team that's made it possible for so many to travel to see x-otic faraway destinations never dreamt possible before," he said on his online blog. "X is about extremes. Blazing new paths É X is different. X is in your face. X is an attitude, a lifestyle." AirAsia X this year expects to take delivery of three new A330s and staff have put forward Xploration, Xpedition and Xcursion as possible names for the aircraft. The airline's first two A330's were called Xuberance and Xhileration, while the plane that services the Kuala Lumpur to London route is called Xcalibur. Many aircraft spotters and enthusiasts will already know the airline's official call-sign is Xanadu. Entries can be submitted at

AirAsia / Supplied ©

The AirAsia group is due to launch a new airfare war to Asia tomorrow with one-way fares expected to be just $99 or less to Bali and Kuala Lumpur.

It is understood there will be several million seats available Asia-wide for travel later this year and in 2011 to all the group's 65 destinations.

Previous sales by AirAsia have sold out in hours and the airline expects the seats to be snapped up.

After AirAsia started offering flights from Perth to Kuala Lumpur in late 2008 air travel to Kuala Lumpur leapt by 38 per cent in 2009, and is up another 34 per cent this year.

The airline started Bali services from Perth in 2009 and air travel to Bali has skyrocketed - climbing 46 per cent last year, while early figures point to another 50 per cent increase this year.

AirAsia will increase its Bali services to three times daily from June 1 and Kuala Lumpur to twice a day from August 1.

Last month, AirAsia chief executive Tony Fernandes promised West Australians "more flights and more bargains".

"Unlike other airlines we don't put fares up when our planes are full, we add more flights," Mr Fernandes said.

And unlike other airlines that were haemorrhaging red ink last year as passengers stayed away, AirAsia recorded a $183 million net profit with a 24 per cent growth in passengers to 22.7 million, making it the fastest-growing and most successful airline in the Asia-Pacific region.

The airline has 82 aircraft making 627 flights a day on 136 routes to 18 countries throughout Asia, Australia and India.

Those numbers are more extraordinary given that seven years ago the airline had just two aircraft and six routes and founder Mr Fernandes rarely, if ever, received an audience with regulators or politicians, let alone a cup of coffee from a banker.
Now the red carpet is there wherever he goes as airports build new terminals to accommodate his airline's expansion and politicians scramble to be seen at the airline's ever increasing occasions of ordering more aircraft or making new route announcements.

Bali's island paradise prizes serenity

And it's happy to share with visitors
By Patti Nickell - Contributing Travel Writer

BALI, Indonesia — The island of Bali — half a world away in the middle of the South China Sea — has become synonymous with grace, simplicity and serenity, an oasis in a part of the world that is frequently tempestuous.

Bali's easygoing way of life has caused the rest of the world to take note. It's a rare travel magazine that hasn't tempted readers at least once with stunning visuals of the island's beaches, terraced mountains and palm-filled jungles. Spas around the world have tried to copy the famed Balinese massage with varying degrees of success. And try as hard as they might, no one has come close to copying the graceful elegance of Balinese dancing. To what does this tiny island owe such great good fortune?

Some Balinese will tell you it's the gods that define the tempo of daily life, whether it's the "good" spirits that inhabit the highlands or the "evil" spirits that dwell in the lowlands near the sea. Good or evil, pious or impish, all have their place in Balinese mythology.

A Balinese princess dressed in her finery for a ceremonial occasion in Ubud.

Tanah Lot, a temple that dates to the 15th century, sits on the edge of a cliff overlooking the sea. Views of the sunset are renowned, which partly explains the popularity of the spot for tourists.

* 100516Travel-Girl
* 100516Travel-Tanah


IF YOU GO: Bali, Indonesia

Getting there: In this case, it really isn't half the fun. Combining flying and layover time, it took me nearly 30 hours to reach Bali. I flew Malaysia Air from Los Angeles to Den Pasar, Indonesia, by way of Taipei and Kuala Lumpur. The airline's high standard of service and concern for passenger comfort made it as painless as any 30-hour flight can be.

Where to stay: Bali's popularity has resulted in lodging choices for every pocketbook. All the luxury chains — Oberoi, Orient Express, Aman, Four Seasons — have properties on the island, which could run as much as several thousand dollars a night (although most have packages for less). There is also a proliferation of smaller properties such as Bali Garden, Barong Cottages and Green Garden Hotel, where the nightly rate is considerably less ($99 to $299).

Learn more:

Travel alerts: Indonesia is the subject of frequent U.S. Department of State alerts and warnings for Americans traveling abroad. None was active at press time. Check the State Department's travel Web site,, for updates.


Fit for the gods

The outward manifestations of the belief in these gods are the places of worship that dot the island — from the simple shrines in every home and business to the more elaborate temples that illustrate the Balinese love of harmony and nature. While Bali lacks the huge temple complexes such as Borobudur, the largest Buddhist temple in the world, on the neighboring island of Java and Angkor Wat in nearby Cambodia, it does offer a chance to see temples in a variety of gorgeous settings.

Among the loveliest is Taman Ayun ("beautiful g arden"), a name that could not be more fitting. The temple, built in 1637, is in its own Eden, separated from the rest of the world by a moat. Another temple, Pura Ulun Danau, also was built in the 17th century to honor the water goddess charged with protecting the rice crop. It sits on Lake Bratan in the crater of an extinct volcano.

Perhaps the most exquisite setting is that of Tanah Lot, dating back to the 15th century, which hugs the edge of a cliff overlooking the sea. At low tide, the island on which it sits is accessible by foot, and while each evening, hundreds gather to watch the sunset, many are careful to go no farther — perhaps because of the giant snake reputed to live in the temple, protecting it from evil spirits and intruders.

Note: Religion in Bali is very complex. Unlike the predominantly Muslim islands of the rest of Indonesia, Bali's religion combines polytheistic Hinduism with Buddhism and borrows from ancient indigenous mythology.

Feeling removed

The temples are bastions of serenity on an island that prizes serenity. You can see it in the graceful movements of the traditional legong dance performed each Friday at Nusa Dua Beach Hotel's Budaya Cultural Theater or in the other traditional dance, the ketjack (monkey dance), performed by more than 200 people at one time during ceremonies in rural villages.

You can see it in the Balinese love of symmetry, a good example of which is "Eka Karya" Bali Botanic Gardens. It is a tropical rainforest in the volcanic highlands and lake districts of central Bali that just happens to have some 1,200 species of plants ranging from orchids to cactus.

With the tragic exception of the 2002 terrorist bombing at a popular nightclub, serenity is such a way of life here that the turbulent outbreaks in other parts of Indonesia seem light years removed. One afternoon, as I sat in a beachside restaurant in Singaraja after a day spent touring the coffee and tea plantations of the highlands, I stared out over the ocean and watched as a dolphin executed a perfect leap right in front of me. It occurred to me that I might be in another century and that I wouldn't be at all surprised to see the billowing sails of a China clipper come into view.

I didn't, but I did see a lone boatman, paddling a canoe piled high with bananas, breadfruit and mangos. In Bali, it seems, the grocer still makes deliveries.

Another day was spent driving around the interior of the island, where the mountains were decorated with row upon row of terraced rice paddies. Every so often, the lush green was interrupted by a silvery flash of falling water as a waterfall erupted from a hidden spring. I reflected on those good spirits residing in the mountains and thought what a lovely home they had.

Along with the benevolent spirits, the mountains are home to monkeys that line the side of the road, jumping up and down and gesticulating wildly — probably in the hope their comical antics will coax a banana from a passing motorist. A piece of advice: Skip the touristy Monkey Jungle and drive into the interior. These monkeys put on a better show, and it's free.

An artsy paradise

Plan to save one day for an excursion to Ubud, Bali's arts and crafts center. You will find shops and galleries offering island specialties from colorful batiks and wood carvings to Balinese shadow puppets. These are small, beautifully crafted leather figures lit from behind so that when their images are projected onto a screen, they become shadowy creatures of the imagination.

A good place to stop for lunch after a morning in Ubud is Kamandalu Resort in lush green hills above the town in an area once famous for its royal palaces. The great hall of Kamandalu, with its rattan furniture and ceiling fans, is open-air, affording a spectacular view of the surrounding hills, rainforest and Petanu River.

For a real taste of local color, visit Jimbaran Bay for one of the famous barbecues. Everyone sits at folding chairs at long tables on the beach, breathes in the smoke from hundreds of pits and eats succulent lobster washed down by cold beer. It's the Balinese equivalent of the Friday night fish fry, where tourists are outnumbered by locals. Don't miss it.

Along with the cuisine, another of Bali's art forms is massage. In any of the island's spas, once the actual body work is over, the real fun begins. On my last day in paradise, once my body had been completely coated with yogurt and then thoroughly rinsed, I was directed to a pool sprinkled with delicate yellow and white frangipani blossoms. With skin now as smooth as the flower petals drifting next to me, I sipped a cup of jasmine tea and gave in to a feeling of total serenity.

Serenity — it's what Bali is all about.
Patti Nickell is a Lexington-based travel writer whose most recent book is Horse Lover's Guide to Kentucky. Reach her at

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Friday, May 14, 2010

On board ... surf and yoga on offer at a Bali retreat.

Stress-free surf

Pose in Bali

Janine Hall isn't the first mid-30s executive to decide there is more to life than a career that demands a 24/7 commitment. But she may be the first to decide the antidote to her mid-life crisis is to run off to Bali and set up a surfing and yoga retreat for women called Surf Haven Bali.

"I figured there had to be women like me who felt totally burnt out and wanted to just get away from everything and hang out with their friends," says Hall, a New Zealander whose fashion marketing career had necessitated stints living in London, Sydney and Tokyo.
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Hall had loved Bali since childhood visits, so it wasn't difficult to pick a location. The yoga and surfing combination seemed a good fit with today's women and with Bali, she says.

"Lots of women are really into yoga and I decided to add the surfing element because of where we are situated and also it's a challenge that is totally refreshing," Hall says.

She also wanted quality accommodation. "You get to a point in life where you don't want to share bathrooms or stay in bunks." Consequently, guests stay at two luxury four-bedroom villas at the resort in Seminyak.

Hall has employed the Australian nutritionist and award-winning restaurateur, Samantha Gowing, to design the menu with a view to using local produce and maximising health benefits. "We did surveys and found that nutrition is uppermost in our guests' wish list," she says.

Gowing turned the Grace Darling Hotel into one of Melbourne's first gastro pubs during the 1990s. She now runs Gowings Food Health Wealth, a successful nutrition and well-being business in Byron Bay, as well as consulting to the spa industry, here and internationally.

The seven-day retreats each month are limited to eight women. Packages including accommodation, 15 hours of surfing tuition (with instructors trained by the Australian Surf Industry Training) daily yoga and meditation classes, three hours of spa treatments, all meals, a full-day Bali tour and airport transfers, are priced from $2311, twin share.

Indonesian police foil 'assassination plot' to kill President

CNN News-

May 14, 2010 -- Updated 1121 GMT (1921 HKT)
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is alleged to be the target of an assassination plot.
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is alleged to be the target of an assassination plot.
(CNN) -- A series of anti-terror raids helped foil an assassination attempt on the Indonesian president by militants, the national police chief said Friday.

"Based from our investigation and the confessions of arrested terrorist suspects, we know that their target was to assassinate the president (Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono) and other high-ranking state officials and guests," said Chief Bambang Danuri, the indonesian police chief.

Indonesian police conducted a series of raids in recent months on groups suspected of having ties to al Qaeda Aceh, a militant Islamic organization that has operated a training camp in the majority-Muslim Indonesian province of Aceh.

Police have killed 13 suspected terrorists and arrested 71 others since February, and have confiscated scores of weapons and ammunition for AK-47s and M-16 rifles.

Al Qaeda Aceh is an offshoot of Jemaah Islamiyah, the group behind the deadly 2002 bomb attacks on Bali and a pair of 2009 bombings at Western hotels in Jakarta.

Police also learned that a recently-raided militant camp had been headed by Dulmatin, the suspected terrorist behind the Bali bombings who was killed by Indonesian police in March.

"This discovery signifies that the terrorist groups have changed their tactics from bombing to armed attacks," the police chief said.

CNN's Andy Saputra contributed to this report.

Bali contributes 45 pct of forex from tourism

Saturday, May 15, 2010 00:06 WIB | Economic & Business | | Viewed 280 time(s)
Denpasar, Bali (ANTARA News) - The Bali provincial administration contributed 45 percent of the foreign exchange of the Rp34 trillion earned from foreign tourists visiting Indonesia.

Head of the Bali Tourism Service Ida Bagus Kadek Subhiku said here Friday Bali contributed to the national tourism sector 35 percent, or approximately two million of the 6.4 million foreign tourists to Indonesia.

"Bali belonged to us all, and is at the same time also a magnet to other regions in introducing their regions. Besides South Sulawesi, North Sumatra, Central Sulawesi, and West Papua, have also established tourism promotion cooperation with Bali," he said.

He added that the total earnings of hotels and restaurants in this province had been directly absorbed by the people, and Badung regency had the highest income of Rp850 billion, followed by Denpasar and Gianyar.

Bali province consisting of eight regencies and one city with a total population of 3.5 million, but admitted still facing infrastructure shortcomings, lack of important facilities, rather insecure security in its tourism development.

He said the 5,636 square kilometers province has 270 different tourism destinations, including 180 marine tourism facilities, mostly in the south like Garuda Wisnu Kencana, Uluwatu, Tanah Lot, Sanur and Kuta beaches.

Support facilities include 155 star-rated hotels with 46 thousand rooms including cottages with 2,175 accommodation facilities and 1,693 restaurants, with the support of 635 travel agents and 5,127 active tour guides of the total of 8,000 certified guides.

The number of foreign tourists coming to Bali had been increasing in the last five years with the exception in 2006, in which their number dropped as the consequence of the terrorist bombings.

Their number reached more than two million in 2009, and in the first quarter of 2010 reached 550 thousand, or up by 18.40 percent of last year`s same period.


Ikuti berita terkini di handphone anda

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A new film about Obama's childhood in the Central Jakarta suburb of Menteng is being rushed into production

Ulma Haryanto
Future US president Barack Obama, circled, when he was a student at SDN Menteng School 1. A new film about Obama

A new film about Obama's childhood in the Central Jakarta suburb of Menteng is being rushed into production. It could reinflame controversy about Obama's alleged Muslim roots used by right-wing detractors in an attempt to undermine his bid for the US presidency. (AP Photo/SDN School Menteng 1)
Rushed New Movie on Obama’s Jakarta Boyhood Set to Ignite Religious Debate

In a move sure to provoke controversy among right-wing groups in the United States, production is set to begin on a new Indonesian movie about Barack Obama’s childhood in Jakarta.

The movie is expected to include scenes of the future US president prostrating to God in the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca, as well as reciting from the Koran.

The film is based on the novel “Obama Anak Menteng” (“Obama the Menteng Kid”), which author Damien Dematra claims to be a true account of “Barry’s” childhood in the Jakarta suburb.

The novel was reportedly written in five days after Damien spent five days interviewing 30 people.

He said he had proof that Obama prayed in the manner of a Muslim and recited the Koran.

Obama, a Christian, was forced to repeatedly deny claims during his ultimately successful presidential election campaign that he had Islamic roots and was educated in a Muslim madrassa.

His African father and Indonesian stepfather were Muslim, though he attended secular and Catholic schools in Jakarta.

Obama spent three years in Jakarta in the late 1960s and early ’70s. The president, who remains deeply popular in Indonesia in stark contrast to his predecessor, George W Bush, was awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize in part for his efforts to reach out to the Muslim world.

Damien told the Jakarta Globe on Tuesday that shooting on the Multivision Plus Pictures film would start this week and the movie would be in cinemas on June 17.

Multivision is known mainly for its television soap operas.

“Tomorrow we’re going to finalize the movie script, including whether we’ll show Obama praying or reciting from the Koran,” Damien said.

He said he had written the screenplay and would co-direct with John DeRantau.

“The filming will take two weeks,” Damien said. “We’ve already cast an American-born child actor as little Barack Obama,” he said. “We’ve also cast actors and actresses from Belgium, Italy and other countries because Obama grew up in a multicultural environment.

“The movie is an account of the people around him, friends, neighbors, teachers, schoolmates.”

Filming will take place in Cimahi, West Java, because “it looks like Menteng Dalam.” “We’ll shoot a few scenes in Jakarta, but not too many,” he added.

He said the movie would run for 100 minutes and be promoted at international film festivals.

“So we’ll have English subtitles,” Damien said, adding he hoped to “rekindle the spirit of pluralism and the power of dreams” through the movie.

“Obama is an icon of pluralism who proved to the world that although he was different, and from the minority, he could aim for the top and beat the majority.”

We usually vote for the lesser evil.

Nong Johnny, 21, student, Iloilo City
Nong Johnny

This election has been a rather fun race. We had the billionaire Manny Villar, the son of a hero Noynoy, former ousted president Erap, Gloria's Defence Minister Gibo [Gilberto Theodoro], all likely winning contenders. Personality politics rules in this country.

This is the first time we had an automated election system. Though there were a few glitches and problems, overall this election was a success. It's a step towards safer and more fair elections in the future.

The violence was significantly lower than during previous elections. So, it's been a success.

I am just happy to know the president I voted for has already won. Though this does not mean he would not succumb to corruption.

We usually vote for the lesser evil. None of the candidates, including the one I voted for, seem able to bring real change. The system which keeps the country poor is still in place. There's rampant corruption and lack of trust for the politicians.

It's hard to get somewhere if you don't know the right people. If this changes, it will feel like a revolution.

Bangkok's pain is Bali's gain.

Tuesday, 11th May 2010
Source : WIT 2010

The political unrest in Bangkok has proved to be a boon for Indonesia with travel demand shifting to alternative locations such as Bali and Jakarta, said Robbie Cooke, CEO and managing director of Wotif Group, which opened its fifth Asian office in Bali this week.

Cooke said the group has seen steady growth in sales for Indonesian properties through its sites –, and – particularly in bookings for Bali (pictured).

“We're pleased and proud to make our presence in Bali more official with an office and bigger team who can better cater to the needs of our growing base of Indonesian properties and the increasing demand from the customers on our brands in Asia,” he said at the opening party, attended by more than 120 general managers and staff from its top supporting Indonesian hotel partners.

Indonesia is ranked as's fifth most popular Asian region, based on bookings for 2009. Bali was also one of's top five Asian destinations in 2009, together with Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur.

Welcoming Wotif’s entry to Indonesia, Gerard Guillouet, VP Operations for Accor Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore said the group, which has seven properties operating and four under construction in Indonesia, would be collaborating with Wotif “even more effectively to attract visitors to Indonesia and help develop the local travel market”.

Cooke said that that more Indonesian hoteliers were harnessing the benefits of online distribution.

‘Being locally based means we can work more closely with our hotel partners to ensure they attract the right mix of our customers for their properties.”

Over 800 Indonesian properties are currently listed on Wotif Group's websites (66% of which are in Bali). Earlier this year, Wotif Group received awards from hotel partners in Indonesia recognising its outstanding contributions as an online partner. These included:

* Excellence in Partnership 2009 and 10th Best Production from Discovery Kartika Plaza in Bali
* Best Growth - Asia Pacific Online Travel Agent for Accor Hotels in Bali & Lombok from the Accor Hotel Group

“These awards are a testament to our dedication to our hotel partners and the tangible value we bring to their business. With an increased focus on the region we hope to achieve many more in the next 12 months,” said Cooke.

Picture shows Yusuf IJsseldijk, Wotif Group's Product Director for Thailand, Indonesia and Indochina, with Indonesian staff members at the new Bali offiice

Bali Airport Axes Biometric Checks Over Long Delays

Made Arya Kencana & Nurfika Osman

Denpasar. Customs officials have pulled the plug on biometric checks of foreign nationals arriving at Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali after less than a month, following an outcry over long queues and the threat of losing revenue.

The Border Control Management system, which includes fingerprinting and photographing of short-stay visitors, was suspended on May 2 on the orders of Justice and Human Rights Minister Patrialis Akbar.

“We don’t know if it will be revived later,” Ngurah Rai Immigration Office administrative head Wilopo said on Tuesday.

He said the system, introduced on April 22, had led to inordinately long lines at immigration counters. Wilopo said the new process took just 30 seconds longer but with daily tourist arrivals of up to 5,000, the accrued delays had forced many to wait in line for hours.

Those picking up visitors at the airport have also complained of the increased waiting times.

“I once had guests whose flight landed at 11 p.m. but who did not leave the airport until 3 a.m.,” tour guide Putu Sumatika said.

Tuesday’s announcement comes a day after Japan Airlines said it would cancel its routes to Bali by Oct. 1. Japanese account for the third-largest number of visitors to Bali, after Australians and Chinese.

The end of the twice-daily flights from Japan is expected to cost the airport management Rp 150 million ($16,500) a day.

Heru Legowo, general manager of airport operator PT Angkasa Pura I, said he had predicted the system would spell trouble.

“Even before we had the BCM, the lines were pretty long,” he said. “So you can imagine what it was like with the BCM.”

Heru said the problem had been worse from the afternoon onwards, when most international flights arrived.

“Obviously the immigration office didn’t think this through,” he said. “They should do more legwork so that next time they implement a new system it doesn’t cause more problems.”

With the BCM decommissioned, officials will go back to just scanning visitors’ passports.

Maroloan Barimbing, spokesman for the ministry’s Directorate General of Immigration, told Jakarta Globe the BCM had to be suspended because the airport had too much traffic.

“Visitors are too crowded in Bali and we are adding more immigration counters and a waiting room there,” he said. “We are trying to do it as soon as possible. “Please don’t say this is not functioning because this is all we need to get the system working.”

BCM is in use at three other international airports, including Jakarta, where the same long queues have also been plaguing passengers.

Maroloan said the BCM system was now being installed at Sultan Iskandar Muda International Airport in Aceh and that it was scheduled to be installed at 27 airports and seaports by the end of July.

Gold’s trading at historic highs of $1231.0 an ounce

11 May, 2010 @ 03:20 pm ET | written by

Europe's bailout plan continue to affect global markets, but investors targeted gold as a safe investment throughout today's trading session due to the long-term effect of the bailout plan introduced by E.U. policy makers to the market, which will suppress the Euro over the upcoming period.Accordingly, investors targeted gold and low yielding assets as a safe investment where gold opened today's trading at $1202.77 an ounce, where it managed to reach the highest levels for today at $1231.77 an ounce, and the lowest at $1200.86 an ounce, while trading at $1230.87 an ounce, as of 18:10 GMT.

Investors weighed the impact of the bailout plan that was presented by E.U. and the IMF, which totaled to $1.0 trillion, where more cash in the global economy raises the Money Supply in the economic cycle, not forgetting that the ECB and the BoE continue to hold the benchmark interest rates at historic low records, accordingly, fears from increasing government's outlays will depreciate the value of the currency, and accordingly, making hard assets more valuable.

Most of Europe's stock indices closed on RED, while U.S. stock market slumped at 15:16 EST, where the DJIA dropped by 0.21% to trade at 10762.77, while the S&P 500 index dropped by 0.24% to trade at 1156.98, meanwhile, the NASDAQ Composite index dropped by 0.18% to trade at 2378.92.

To Bali and back for love

May 10, 2010

Bali Luxury Villa Rentals

For Charmaine and Bradley Fraser, love knew no bounds. Photos: Supplied Click for more photos
Wedded in Western Australia

For Charmaine and Bradley Fraser, love knew no bounds. Photos: Supplied

For Charmaine and Bradley Fraser, love knew no bounds.

The couple met in early 2008 while Brad was visiting Perth from Bali, where he had been living and working for Quicksilver for two years.

After trying a long-distance relationship for around five months, Charmaine decided to make the move to Bali.
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"My parents hadn't even met Brad," Charmaine said.

"But everyone was really good about it, they knew I wouldn't be doing it if it wasn't right."

Charmaine quit her job as an assistant accountant with an insurance firm and moved to Bali, where they were together for six months.

Brad proposed in November 2008 when they were holidaying in Margaret River. He designed the ring himself to add to the surprise.

"I definately was not expecting it," Charmaine said.

"It was the first time I had ever seen him nervous."

Charmaine and Brad spent time managing a resort on Mentawai Island in Indonesia, and after leaving there they managed the Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef resort in Exmouth.

After receiving the exciting news that Charmaine was pregnant, the couple left Exmouth and returned to Perth.

With a wedding date set for April 18, Charmaine said plans ended up falling into place as she knew what she wanted.

The Sunken Gardens at UWA was the venue for the ceremony, chosen because of the beauty of the buildings.

The reception was held at Villa Pourzane in Cottesloe.

"We didn't have a theme, we just wanted everyone to have a good time," Charmaine said.

"We played the cheesiest radio music ever and played games. We wanted it to be more interactive rather than a traditional wedding."

The wedding cake was a three tiered, white cake with roses down the side, which Charmaine saw in a photo and got a friend to replicate.

Charmaine's dress was designed by a dressmaker to suit her new pregnant physique. She said she was not a bride who felt uncomfortable being pregnant at her wedding.

"Not in the slightest, I love being pregnant, I feel fantastic," she said.

After the wedding the couple spent four days at the Quay West Resort in Bunker Bay.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Son of Corazon Aquino leading in Philippine presidential election

Sen. Benigno Aquino III appears to be winning after a day of deadly violence, sweltering heat and malfunctioning voting machines. Even Aquino had to wait five hours to cast his ballot.
Philippines election

Sen. Benigno 'Noynoy' Aquino III speaks to reporters outside a poling station in Hacienda Luisita, Tarlac City, Tarlac province, north of Manila. Unofficial results have him winning the presidential race by a landslide. (Dennis M. Sabangan, EPA / May 9, 2010)

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Election day violence in the Philippines Election day violence in the Philippines
Filipina writes up a storm Filipina writes up a storm

By John M. Glionna and Sol Vanzi, Los Angeles Times

May 11, 2010

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Reporting from Seoul and Manila
Filipinos on Monday appeared set to elect as president the son of late democracy icon Corazon Aquino in an attempt to turn a corner on long years of alleged graft and election fraud.

Sen. Benigno Aquino III held a commanding lead with votes from just under 80% of precincts tallied nationwide. He led a nine-candidate presidential race with 40% of the vote, followed by his closest rival, former President Joseph Estrada, who had 25%.

Officials say it could take several days to proclaim an outright winner.

The Philippine election has been marred by widespread violence and flaws with ballot-counting machines that many blamed on the corrupt politics.

Officials confirmed election-related violence at more than 80 polling places nationwide, including bombings, shootouts, abductions and the burning of voting machines. At least six people were killed and eight were wounded, they said.

"We certainly don't want it, and as a Filipino I know it's a terrible thing, but unless something is done to change the system and [make] these people afraid of the law, it's going to happen again and again," said Rod Severino, head of the ASEAN Studies Center at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore.

Aquino's father was assassinated in 1983 upon his return from the United States to oppose the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. His mother led the "people power" movement that forced Marcos from power in 1986 and led the nation to greater individual freedoms.

But turmoil and charges of high-level corruption have continued. Corazon Aquino survived half a dozen coup attempts. Estrada, who was elected president in 1998, was later jailed on corruption charges. The outgoing president, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, also has been shadowed by allegations of corruption in her nearly 10 years in power.

The 50-year-old Aquino has promised to immediately begin prosecuting corrupt officials to restore government credibility.

At many polling places, voters waited more than five hours in humid 100-degree heat to cast their ballots, with many eventually giving up in despair. Election officials put turnout at 75% of the 50 million eligible voters.

Authorities extended voting for one hour, until 7 p.m., after reports that optical scanning machines used for the first time had broken down in more than 300 of the nation's 76,000 precincts. Many people had requested that polls remain open three hours after that.

Aquino was one of many who had trouble casting his ballot when a machine malfunctioned in his hometown of Tarlac, north of Manila. Aquino showed up at 10 a.m. but did not cast his vote until five hours later.

"This should not have happened," he said. "I hope this is an isolated case."

It was not.

Volunteers used broom handles, the tip of an umbrella and even ballpoint pens to dislodge ballots jamming voting machines.

"I interviewed people who had waited for four hours to vote and were still nowhere near the front of the line. The electronic voting systems seem to be creating as many problems as they are solving," said Lincoln Ellis, a volunteer for a group called the People's International Observation Mission.

Some towns were not able to hold elections because of the balloting machine problems and outbreaks of violence. Special elections were to be held in many of those areas, means voting results will be delayed.

Analysts said the violence was typical of Philippine elections.

In addition to Monday's deaths, campaign-related violence has killed more than 30 people in the last three months. The last election in 2007 saw more than 125 people killed.

"It's lawlessness that's getting people killed," Severino said.

In a nation where the rich and famous often run for political office, the ballot was filled with well-known names — including Manny Pacquiao, 31, a seven-time world boxing champion who was seeking a seat in the lower house. Imelda Marcos, 80, the flamboyant former first lady, won a lower house seat by a landslide.

Times staff writer Glionna reported from Seoul and special correspondent Vanzi from Manila. Special correspondent Al Jacinto in Zamboanga City, Mindanao, contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2010, The Los Angeles Times

Couples face uncertainty over property ownership

Dicky Christanto, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Mon, 05/10/2010 1:00 PM | National
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Dozens of transnational married couples have said they are facing confusion and uncertainty in dealing with property ownership, mostly because of overlapping regulations.

William Waller, a British national who has been married to an Indonesian woman, Betty, for 14 years, said he was concerned about what would happen to his assets if he died.

"If I died, then of course I would want the house to be given to my wife. Thus if this is also prohibited by the existing law just because I am a foreigner then I must say that I couldn't find the logic behind these regulations," Waller told a seminar on transnational couples on Saturday.

The seminar was organized by Srikandi, a non-profit organization comprising Indonesian women who are married to foreigners. The organization is dedicated to finding solutions for problems facing transnational married couples.

Martin, an Indonesian woman whose French husband recently passed away, said she was confused about what would happen to her husband's several properties in Jakarta.

"I have been told to immediately sell my properties here to avoid any penalties from the administration," she told The Jakarta Post.

There are several laws with overlapping articles concerning transnational marriages and property ownership, including the Basic Agrarian Law, the 1974 Marriage Law, Law No. 7/1984 on the ratification of Convention of Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (Cedaw), the Citizenship Law and the 1996 Government Regulation on property rights.

Maharani, head of the legal division at the National Land Agency (BPN), said the Basic Agrarian Law clearly stipulated that the right to land ownership was given only to Indonesian citizens.

Foreigners only have the right to only use land or property for the duration of their stay in Indonesia.

"These expatriates are only allowed to hold a leasehold title or hak pakai for 25 years with the possibility to extend for another 25 years," she said.

She added that if a foreigner decided to leave the country for good or passed away before their leasehold title had expired, their benefactors would be obliged to sell the property within a year.

"If they fail to sell the property within a year then the land and the property will be auctioned by the state. The money from the auction will be split between the state and the foreigner's family."

Aking Saputra, a law expert who spoke at the seminar, said that selling a property with a leasehold title was not easy and that the title holder would be unlikely to get market value.

Aking said there was another serious legal problem facing transnational couples.

The 1996 Government Regulation on foreign ownership stipulates that only Indonesian citizens can own property. However, that changes if an Indonesian marries an expatriate.

"The Indonesians would lose their right to possess land because according to the Marriage Law and Law No. 7/1984 on Cedaw ratification every possession that is purchased by a mixed couple after they are married is considered a collective possession," he said.

The danger therefore, Aking went on, was that the couple would lose the right to own land because one of the parties was an expatriate.

He said the couple could avoid the problem by making a prenuptial agreement.

"If they managed to have a prenuptial agreement before they got married, then the house that had been bought in the name of the Indonesian wife would not be a problem because the house will be considered the wife's possession and not that of the foreign husband," he said.

Aking said the overlapping regulations had to be ironed out.

Maharani, from the BPN, said the government was preparing two new bills that were expected to synchronize overlapping regulations, including one on transnational couples.

The property bills are now being deliberated by the House of Representatives, she said.