Mon, 10 Feb 2003


NU to hold mass prayer in March

SURABAYA, East Java: The largest Muslim organization in Indonesia, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), is planning to hold a mass gathering in this province in March, and has called upon people to repent and to pray for the nation's safety from disasters.

Organizing committee chairman Sholeh Hayat said on Sunday that participants would come from Surabaya and the nearby cities of Mojokerto, Gresik, Lamongan, Sidoarjo, Pasuruan and Bangil.

The mass gathering would be held not only to pray for the state, but also to pray for the people's prosperity and safety, he added.

A number of senior Muslim clerics are scheduled to attend the gathering, including Abdullah Faqih from Tuban, Idris Marzuki of Lirboyo in Kediri, and Sahal Mahfudz, a senior executive of NU.

Separately, NU chairman Hasyim Muzadi said that several ambassadors from countries in the Middle East and Europe had also been invited to the gathering. -- Antara

Golkar teaches cadres in Papua

JAYAPURA, Papua: Despite the internal rift in its executive board, activities of the Golkar Party remain undisturbed, as evidenced by the training it has carried out in order to prepare cadres in Papua for the 2004 general elections.

A number of 131 cadres from 28 regencies and 14 new regencies throughout Papua participated in a party training workshop in Jayapura from Feb. 2 to 6.

Jan L. Ayomi, director of the party's training unit in the province, said on Saturday that the activity had been organized to help the province recruit more qualified human resources.

It was also aimed at increasing the number of voters for the 2004 elections, Ayomi added.

In the 1999 general elections, Golkar gained 54 percent of votes in Papua, the highest among other political parties. The party has targeted to increase their ballots by up to 65 percent in the 2004 elections.

In his speech, Golkar chairman Jhon Ibo urged cadres to always focus on the people's aspirations and to uphold national unity. -- Antara

'More nonvoters in next elections'

SEMARANG, Central Java: Sociologist Arief Budiman predicted that the number of people who would not apply their right to vote in the 2004 elections would rise by up to 15 percent.

Arief said the people who would prefer not to vote would be those who had voted for Megawati's Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) in 1999.

He added that these people had been disappointed with the performance of the party, once considered a party that always fought for the common people.

"Neither would the people vote for Golkar, because of the past. As being a nonvoter has become an alternative, they will choose not to vote," said Arief, a professor at the University of Melbourne, here on Saturday.

Arief had introduced the nonvoter option in 1971 during an engineered election organized by then-president Soeharto.

In past elections, the number of nonvoters was less than 12 percent of those who voted. -- Antara ;JP;DJA; ANPAa..r.. Scene-bills Two labor bills to be endorsed on Feb. 25 JP/4/SCENE

Two labor bills to be endorsed on Feb. 25

SURABAYA: The two labor bills being deliberated by the House of Representatives have been scheduled to be endorsed during the plenary session on Feb. 25.

Minister of Manpower and Transmigration Jacob Nuwa Wea said on Saturday in Surabaya that all arrangements and repairs had been made to the last draft.

"I do not see any reasons for a rejection, so I will urge the House of Representatives to pass the bills by the deadline," the minister said.

Both employers and labor unions have settled a number of contentious chapters, including those on industrial strikes, on multiple payments and outsourcing, in a four-month discussion held after the endorsement of the bill was delayed last November.

Jacob contended that the House had conducted a series of discussions with workers unions to ensure that neither bill would make them suffer, so there should be no more problems.

"The House has met these unions in the past four months, so we are going to finalize the bills and deliberate them as scheduled," he added.

About 22 workers unions rejected the bills, saying that it violated workers' rights. The contentious issues included protection for women and child workers, strikes and severance pay. -- Antara