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Surabaya mayor impeached over ads tax fiasco

Six of the seven factions at the Surabaya Legislative Council have voted to impeach Mayor Tri Rismaharini because of her decision to increase taxes on advertisement banners.

The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), which previously backed Tri, voted in favor of impeachment. Only the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) rejected the impeachment decision.

“[The PDI-P] sincerely accepts the dismissal of Tri from her position,” said PDI-P spokesman Syaifuddin Zuhri on Monday as quoted by tempointeraktif.com.

The problem revolves around Tri’s decision to issue a 2010 regulation where she raised the rates on advertisement billboards without coordinatiing with other provincial institutions.

Meanwhile, the PKS said it disagreed with Tri’s dismissal because the mayor had made technical mistakes and the government could judge using an accountability report instead of an inquiry.

“We have judged too quickly, and there isn’t enough information and evidence yet to move her from her position,” said PKS spokesman Tri Setijo Purwito.

Ariel Peterpan gets three and a half years jail

Popular Indonesian singer Nazriel Ilham, better known as Ariel Peterpan has been sentenced to 3.5 years behind bars and Rp 250 million in fines for charges pressed against his pornographic video.

The verdict is lighter than the demand of the prosecutors, which was at least 5 years.

“The court has ruled 3.5 years of punishment for Nazriel Ilham,” said Chief Justice Singgih Budi Prakoso, at the Bandung District Court earlier today.

Ariel was proven to have made and distributed pornographic videos. He was also fined Rp 250 million to be paid over the course of three months.

Before this, prosecutors charged Ariel with 5 years in prison on Thursday (6/1). When that verdict was given, Ariel’s legal advisor OC Kaligis immediately voiced his objections.

OC Kaligis said charges against Ariel by the Attorney General has not been assessed carefully, especially the charges made in 2008. “His alleged actions occurred before the law was made,” said OC Kaligis.

Jl. Casablanca a No-Go Zone, Jakarta Motorists Told

Authorities in Jakarta on Sunday called on commuters not to use Jalan Casablanca because of ongoing construction along the South Jakarta thoroughfare.

The head of Jakarta’s Public Works Office, Ery Basworo, urged motorists to bear with the city as it worked on a new elevated road that would eventually help relieve traffic in the area.

“Even without the construction work, Casablanca is already jammed,” he said. “That’s why the elevated road will enable people to bypass Casablanca and go straight to Mas Mansyur [in Tanah Abang].”

The new road is part of a traffic management project that aims to create two elevated bypasses, one linking Blok M and Antasari in South Jakarta and the other connecting Tanah Abang in Central Jakarta to Kampung Melayu in East Jakarta.

The city has budgeted Rp 1.3 trillion and Rp 800 billion ($144.3 million and $88.8 million), respectively, for the first phases of both projects.

The first phase of the Blok M-Antasari bypass will run 5.5 kilometers from Cipete Market to the National Police field.

The first phase of the Tanah Abang-Kampung Melayu bypass will run 3.5 km from Casablanca to Jalan H. Kyai Mas Mansyur.

Indonesia attracts world business players in Davos

ndonesia which is less known to world businesses compared to China and India took the opportunity to build relations and expand business networks in the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, last week.

“In term of investment, Davos is an extraordinary place for us to build networking because this forum is attended by more than 1,000 chief executive officers (CEO) from more than 1,000 companies,” Trade Minister Mari Elka Pengestu said.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono directly led the Indonesian delegation to the WEF. He attended the world economic forum on January 27-28 which was held from January 26, 2011.

“The presence of the president in the WEF when world economic players meet there will give Indonesia a chance to introduce various progresses it has made, including justice-based economic development,” Teuku Faizasyah, the presidential special staff for international relations, said before the Indonesian delegation departed to the forum last week.

During the forum, the Indonesian president was promoting Indonesia`s economic and investment potentials. “The more information they get about Indonesia the higher their desires to cooperate and partner with us. After all they came from advanced countries which could provide a lot of benefit for us,” President Yudhoyono said after concluding his visit in that country on Saturday.

Many world businesses told the president that they had already investment in Indonesia and would increase it further and expand their businesses in the country. Many others who have not made their investment expressed their desires to come to Indonesia.

“I positively welcome them if they will really increase benefit for us,” the president said.

Trade Minister Mari Elka Pangestu said the president and ministers accompanying him made use of every opportunity during the event to introduce Indonesia and its economic potentials to world`s economic players.

The president`s delegation included Chief Economic Minister Hatta Radjasa, Finance Minister Agus Martowardojo, Trade Minister Mari Pangestu, Foreign Affairs Minister Marty Natalegawa and Investment Board chief Gita Wirjawan.

On the sidelines of the forum, Mari said she had had a meeting with delegates of Google and Collective Brand, US-based shoe retailers who expressed desires to make investment in Indonesia.

These world class businesses have sought specific information about investment and various other fields such market potentials in Indonesia, a country of more than 230 million people.

She said that at present Indonesia had improved its investment climate through various regulations and transparent polices. This is proven by the increase in Indonesia`s rating from 54 to 44 in the Global Competitive Index issued by the WEF.

The trade minister said one sector which was still considered not yet improving was the infrastructure, yet this was a sector that could be seen as an opportunity for the business world.

Indonesia`s infrastructure development reaches Rp280 trillion annually. It is expected to reach Rp1,400 trillion in the 2010 – 2014 period. The government is only able to finance about 30 percent of the infrastructure business potentials.

For this purpose, Indonesia needs to continue promoting its investment potentials abroad. So far, Indonesia is still less known to business world compared with China and India.

“I met with international business community this morning. They said that Indonesia was not yet popularly known like India and China. The international business community said they had not yet been well-informed of Indonesia,” President Yudhoyono told a press conference at Radisson Hotel, Zurich, Switzerland, and Saturday evening.

Now, the president said, the world business players have known that Indonesia`s economic growth is in the second rank in Asia after that of China and India, with increasingly bigger and strong economic capacity.

The president said that his presence in the WEF also carried a moral mission as the chair of ASEAN to explain to the world that Indonesia and the Southeast Asian region contributed to the economic development in Asia.

Mari Eyes Investment Grade Rating for Indonesia

Indonesia hopes to regain an investment grade sovereign rating this year, the country’s trade minister said on Saturday. “I hope we can get back into investment grade this year,” Mari Elka Pangetsu said in a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Indonesia moved a step closer to securing a coveted top investment rating earlier this month when Moody’s upgraded its sovereign debt to within one notch of investment grade and flagged the outlook as stable.The upgrade from Ba2 to Ba1 puts Indonesia one step below that of BRIC nations Brazil and India — and other ratings agencies such as Standard & Poors are likely to follow suit this year

Indonesia asks for Swiss help to recover Bank Century assets

Indonesia wants Switzerland’s help to recover assets connected to the Bank Century bailout allegedly sheltered in Swiss banks.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said he discussed the issue with Swiss President Doris Leuthard this weekend.
“The first issue I raised during my meeting with the President of the Swiss Confederation in Davos was the need for cooperation between Indonesia and Switzerland in recovering the assets, some of which are believed to be kept in Switzerland,” Yudhoyono said as quoted by Antara news agency during a layover Zurich International Airport on early Monday morning local time en route to Jakarta.
Switzerland has been less cooperative in recovering the assets of Bank Century, now Bank Mutiara, Yudhoyono said, quoting a government report.
“The Swiss President explained they actually wanted to cooperate but needed documents explaining the legal side [of the Century case] so that the request can be processed,” Yudhoyono told the press.
“I therefore told the Swiss President that the Indonesian team will return. We hope there will be good cooperation and we’ve asked [for support from] the World Bank because there has already been cooperation in stolen assets recovery.”
The President added the government would follow up on his talks with Leuthard after he arrived in Jakarta.

KPK Detains 19 Indonesian Politicians In Bribe Case

In a sign that one of the country’s most anticipated corruption trials will begin soon, 19 suspects in the Rp 24 billion ($2.7 million) bribery scandal surrounding the appointment of Miranda Goeltom as Bank Indonesia senior deputy governor were detained on Friday.

Panda Nababan, from the opposition Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), the only sitting lawmaker among those detained, was picked up at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport by members of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) as he was about to depart for a party leadership meeting in Batam on Friday morning.

The other 18, all former lawmakers from the PDI-P, the Golkar Party and the United Development Party (PPP), were detained after being questioned at KPK headquarters in Jakarta.

They included former minister and Golkar politician Paskah Suzetta, senior PDI-P politician Max Moein and former PDI-P lawmaker Agus Condro Prayitno, the whistle-blower who reported the alleged bribery in 2008.

The 19 detained on Friday were among the 26 suspects named last September in the 2004 bribery scandal that has already seen four former lawmakers jailed.

Of the other seven, one has passed away, another has been detained in a separate case, four claim to be ill and one is out of town. “We’re going to check on the condition of the four with the hospital and if they are really ill, the case will be delayed,” KPK spokesman Johan Budi said.

The 19 current and former lawmakers picked up on Friday are being detained at Salemba, Pondok Bambu and Cipinang penitentiaries, as well as Jakarta Police headquarters.

13 dead after Indonesian ferry blaze

At least 13 people were killed when a fire broke out overnight on an Indonesian ferry with more than 400 people aboard, forcing passengers to leap into the sea to escape the blaze.
The ferry caught fire in the Sunda Strait between the islands of Java and Sumatra, about three kilometres (two miles) from the port of Merak at the westernmost tip of Java, at around 3:30 am (2030 GMT Thursday).

“Thirteen people have been killed,” Transport Ministry director for maritime passenger services Wiratno, who goes by one name, said, adding more than 400 people had survived.

“The fire has gone and the burnt ferry is now located close to a beach,” he said.

Wiratno said personnel from the port, navy and police were still conducting a search of the area for passengers.

The survivors jumped into the sea wearing life jackets and were picked up by boats, he added. Many were transferred to two hospitals in Cilegon on Java for treatment.

Pundit says House tax probe linked to elections

The House’s recent push to investigate tax corruption might be part of legislators’ efforts to seek financial support ahead of the 2014 elections, a political analyst says.

“The inquiry will be nothing more than another tool for political trade-offs. We know that corruption at the tax office has involved hundreds of corporations and businesspeople and huge amounts of money, Burhanuddin Muhtadi of the Indonesian Survey Institute told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

“If such cases are brought up in a political forum instead of legally, that could be dangerous. Legislators could seek ‘political settlements’ and leave the legal offenses untouched,” Burhanuddin said.

He cited the example of the House’s plenary meeting in February 2010 that concluded that the controversial Rp 6.76 trillion bailout of the now-defunct Bank Century in 2008 was riddled with regulatory violations and legal offenses.

The House recommended that law enforcement officials investigate all suspected officials including former Bank Indonesia governor (now Vice President) Boediono and former finance minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati.

“Things have been very hot during the processes with national TV broadcasting inquiry hearings live. But when the legislators stay quiet and ‘ignorant’ of the government’s [failure] to obey their final recommendation, people get suspicious. Have they made some ‘illicit’ deals?” Burhanuddin said.

As of Thursday a proposal to initiate the inquiry was officially supported by 23 legislators, including legislators from the Golkar Party. Twenty-five legislators are needed to launch an inquiry under the 2009 Legislative Bodies Law.

Five People Killed in Head-on Train Crash

Two passenger trains crashed head-on in Indonesia early Friday, killing at least five people and leaving many others injured, a railway official said.

Rescuers were still trying to reach several people trapped inside the crumpled carriages hours after the crash.

The accident occurred at around 2:30 a.m. on the outskirts of Banjar, a village in West Java province, 170 miles (270 kilometers) from the capital, Jakarta.

“We don’t know why they were on the same track,” said Bambang Ervan, a spokesman for the Transportation Ministry. “We’re still investigating.”

He said a passenger train traveling eastward from the city of Bandung collided with a westbound train from Surabaya.