Sat, 29 Nov 2003

An idea of a general

Warning for tardy civil servants

Civil servants who fail to return to work in the days after the Idul Fitri holiday will be punished. State Minister of Administrative Reforms Feisal Tamin revealed the government's policy on Monday, saying that anyone not on official leave must be at their desk on Dec. 1, 2003.

Idul Fitri will fall on Nov. 25 and Nov. 26, but the government has declared an extended holiday, from Nov. 22 through Nov. 30, meaning that the total holiday for civil servants will be nine days. With such a policy -- hopefully -- all government office employees will have no reason to skip work after the holiday has ended.

Feisal's intentions could be achieved if a monitoring system, involving the public, were run properly, because electronic attendance records can be manipulated.

The bosses (at state institutions or offices) usually want their offices to look clean and disciplined; therefore, there is a possibility that they may be concealing the fact that many of their staff are unpunctual.

Almost all government offices are usually empty on the days following the Idul Fitri festivities. A few workers turn up at the office just to greet each other, with no sanctions taken against those who fail to show up on work days after Idul Fitri.

-- Warta Kota, Jakarta

Victory for the people

The Central Jakarta District Court turned down last week Sinivasan Marimutu's lawsuit against Tempo weekly magazine. The same panel of judges -- on the same day -- also agreed to Sinivasan's request to withdraw the lawsuit his company (PT Texmaco Group) had filed against Kompas daily.

The court's decisions, like candlelight in the dark for the nation, boosted the hope that efforts to build a better Indonesia in the future are not futile.

It is not just because the court favored Tempo, Kompas or the national press community. It is because the court has just favored the people of Indonesia, who should no longer worry about losing access to information in the public domain.

It is true that the national press was shocked upon learning the plaintiffs' demand for a huge sum in compensation. There is also a belief among the public that court decisions depend more on the size of the bribe offered (to law enforcers) than the evidence under consideration.

Wednesday's verdicts indicate strongly that we still have bright judges who want the public to enjoy the right to information, as stipulated in Law No. 40/1999 on the press.

We do hope that in the future the courts will use the press law to deal with press-related cases on the basis of lex specialis or special law, which involves special professions, instead of lex generalis or (general) criminal law.

-- Koran Tempo, Jakarta

Terror in Istanbul and beyond

The murderous car bomb attacks in Istanbul at the weekend will achieve none of their apparent political objectives. Turkey is the most secular of Islamic nations and was possibly targeted for that reason. It will not be distancing itself from either the United States or Israel, with both of which its ties are longstanding and unusually cordial. Turkey is more likely to remain close to the U.S. and seek, among other things, an abatement of criticism of its stern treatment of its Kurdish minority, whose defiance of its authority Istanbul customarily describes as its own terrorist problem.

Not that those behind Saturday's bombings were of Kurdish origin. Rather, a radical Islamic group linked to al-Qaeda, the Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades, has claimed responsibility for the bombings outside two synagogues in Istanbul which killed 18 Muslims and six Jews. It threatens further attacks in other countries, including Australia.

The group says "Jews around the world will regret that their ancestors ever thought about occupying the land of Muslims". It says the U.S. and its allies must "put an end to the war they are waging against Islam and Muslims in the name of the war on terror and withdraw from all Muslim lands desecrated by Jews and 3 73 U3