Fri, 18 Jul 2003

More US military incursions

JAKARTA: The Indonesian Navy spotted a convoy of seven foreign warships in the Natuna Sea, Riau, the Navy said in a media release on Thursday.

"The convoy was spotted by the KRI Teuku Umar of the Western Indonesian Fleet at about 6 a.m. on Wednesday and tried to establish communication with the convoy," commander of the Western Indonesian Fleet, Rear Adm. Mualimin Santoso MZ said in the release.

"The convoy, however, did not respond."

Maj. Abdul Rasyid, who commands the KRI Teuku Umar, decided to monitor and track the convoy until about 8:15 a.m. at a distance of 2 miles before the convoy sailed away from Indonesian waters.

Observations revealed that the convoy was conducting a joint training session in international waters after analyzing its formation and maneuvers. The convoy consisted of five Singaporean and two U.S. warships.

The Singaporean ships were corvettes RSS Valiant and RSS Vigour and fast attack craft RSS Sea Wolf. Two other ships were not identified.

KRI Teuku Umar could only identify one US Navy ship, cruiser USS Vincennes with another ship unidentified.

;JP;MTR; ANPAa..r.. Halal-scene Ministers defend new ruling on `halal' labeling JP/4SCENE18 Ministers defend 'halal' ruling

JAKARTA: Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare Yusuf Kalla and Minister for Religious Affairs Said Agil Munawar defended on Thursday a much-criticized new ruling on halal certification.

The ministers agreed however, that the halal labeling for each product should not be mandatory. "Producers are free not to put the halal label, but they would be put at risk of making (Muslim) consumers suspicious as they could not guarantee that food or beverages were not prohibited by Islamic teaching," Minister Kalla said.

If a food or beverage is halal, this means that it may be consumed by Muslims.

Producers have earlier lambasted the new ruling saying it was designed solely for the purpose of extorting money from businesspeople, and thus consumers, rather than protecting Muslims from consuming forbidden food and beverages.

The draft revision of the ruling has been submitted to the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights for further review. After this stage, it will be submitted to the President for endorsement. --JP

;JP;AMD; ANPAa..r.. Scene-consumers-tapwater Tap water consumers union founded JP/4/SCENE

Tap water consumers union founded

MAGELANG, Central Java: A new group calling itself The Association of Indonesian Tap Water Consumers (AFPAMI) was announced here on Thursday, with an aim to help customers secure their rights against tap water companies.

The declaration was read out by chairman of the Magelang Forum of Tap Water Consumers, Suyono Nurwahadi, who said that 30 forums across the country supported the association.

He said the association was sparked by the forums' desire for better management of tap water, which is facing an increase in demand.

Executives of the tap water customers unions met in Magelang amid complaints about tap water rates, which are not affordable for some people. -- Antara

;JP;KHS; ANPA..r..


DPA not invited to MPR meeting

JAKARTA: The People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) decided not to invite the Supreme Advisory Council (DPA) to give its report at the Annual Session from Aug. 1 through 10 as the Council had legally been disbanded last year.

Assembly speaker Amien Rais suggested on Thursday that President Megawati Soekarnoputri issue a decree to formally disband the council.

Lawmakers disbanded the 30-strong DPA last year when they completed the amendment of the constitution, but the institution continues to exist until today.

Constitutional law expert Jimly Ashidiqqie said earlier that the presence of the DPA had ended as soon as the constitutional amendment process ended.

DPA was reportedly used by former president Soeharto to accommodate retired military and state officials. --JP

;JP;TSO; ANPAa..r.. Scene-ICW-corruption House blamed for being half hearted to combat corruption JP/4/ICW

House blamed in corruption drive

JAKARTA: The Indonesian Corruption Watch (ICW) said on Thursday that House of Representative legislators should be blamed for the delay in the establishment of the powerful anti- corruption commission as mandated by law No. 30/2002 on anti- corruption.

ICW said legislators had failed to press President Megawati Soekarnoputri to fight against corruption.

Law No. 30/2002 stipulates that an anti-corruption commission be established within one year after the law comes into effect. The law was endorsed in December 2002, but seven months after its enactment, the government has made little attempt to set up the commission.

"With only five months left, the President has yet to even set up a team in charge of selecting commission members. We are afraid that she may fail to meet the deadline," ICW said on Thursday.

"Lawmakers, on the other hand, were supposed to be proactive in preparing the establishment of the commission because they have endorsed the law," the watchdog added.

According to the anticorruption law, the commission, which will have five members, will have the full authority to investigate all cases of corruption involving state officials and prosecute them in court.

The Ministry of Justice and Human Rights has proposed 13 people who will select commission members, but Megawati rejected them all and gave no reason or suggested any new ones.

The ministry's proposal included noted anti-corruption campaigner Teten Masduki, as well as prominent lawyers Todung Mulya Lubis and Abdul Hakim Garuda Nusantara, and scholar Harkristuti Harkrisnowo. --JP

;Antara;IWA; ANPAa..r.. Scene-botanical-garden JP/ /

'Science tourism' for botanical garden

BEDUGUL, Bali: The Botanical Garden, locally known as Kebun Raya, is changing its concept from a conservation, research, education and recreation center to a scientific tourism site, a senior official says.

Mustaid Siregar, head of Plant Conservation at Eka Karya Botanical Garden, Bali, said on Thursday that the new concept would allow people to admire the flora as well as learn and study about the many plants available.

"We are currently developing and will continue to develop the concept..." he said.

Mustaid said this scientific tourism concept would give people knowledge about the plants in the country that are located in the botanical garden.

According to him, the concept would also benefit local youths who want to learn more about nature from a scientific perspective. -- Antara