Thu, 08 May 2003

Japanese war monument neglected JP/ /Across

War monument neglected: Official

BIAK, Papua: A Japanese World War II monument on the West Papuan island of Biak Numfor is in poor condition as workers have not been paid to maintain one of the island's main tourist sites, an official said on Wednesday.

"Over the past three months, 12 temporary workers helping to maintain the World War II monument have not received their salaries," said Luther Rumpaidus, the official in charge of managing the site.

The workers receive a monthly salary of Rp 100,000 (about US$11), but the local administration says it does not have the budget to pay them, he said.

Luther has urged the Biak Numfor regency to focus its attention on maintaining the monument, arguing that it was one of the island's main tourist attractions.

Whenever Japanese tourists visit Biak, he said, they go to see the monument, which is situated some eight kilometers from the city of Biak.

Japan occupied Indonesia for about three years after defeating Dutch colonial rule during World War II. -- Antara

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JP/ /

Families have fewer children: Report

PALANGKA RAYA, Central Kalimantan: Families here are having fewer children, with the number of births dropping to an average of two to three children per family from six or seven thirty years ago, a local official said on Wednesday.

The Central Kalimantan deputy governor, Nahson Taway, said the trend showed that the family planning program was working in this province.

"The average birth rate has dropped to 2.66 from 6.82 three decades ago," he said, adding that the province's population growth had dropped from 3.57 percent to 2.68 percent within the same period.

He said that with fewer births, various health indicators, such as the life expectancy rate, had also improved.

Under the government-backed program, families are encouraged to have no more than two children.

The world's fourth most populous country, Indonesia's family planning program ranks among the most successful in the world. -- Antara

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JP/ /Across

RI, Malaysia eye speedboat route

PONTIANAK, West Kalimantan: The provincial administration of West Kalimantan is considering an offer from Malaysian investors to open a speedboat route connecting the town of Sambas with the Malaysian city of Sibu in Sarawak.

The head of the provincial transportation and telecommunications office, Salam Susanto, said on Wednesday that traveling by speedboat would be a welcome alternative.

He said the investors proposed to use a speedboat that could carry up to 200 passengers to travel the Sambas-Sibu route in seven hours.

"But we think traveling that route might be too long," Salam said.

He said his office had instead proposed that the route be shortened to Kuching.

Kuching is a major Malaysian tourist destination on the south side of Sarawak, and is closer to the Indonesian side.

He said the Malaysian investors had pitched the idea on several occasions, and would likely discuss it again when Indonesia meets the Malaysian government in Pontianak for economic and social talks.

"We'll flesh out the proposal at our next meeting in June," Salam said. -- Antara