The week in review: Still not enough
The Jakarta Post
The Jakarta Post
The Jan. 14 terror attack in broad daylight on Jl. MH Thamrin, Central Jakarta, raised a major question: Has the government done enough to curb terrorist activity in the country?
Four civilians were killed, along with four terrorists, while two dozen were injured. The crime highlighted the alarming emergence of young people joining terrorist groups, ready to spread fear to promote whatever they believe in.
The less-than-successful deradicalization programs, overcrowded prisons and leniency in sentence remissions are pointed to as reasons why even terror-related convicts can easily resume their crimes. Therefore, the government has decided to push for amendments to the 2003 Terrorism Law to improve preventive measures.
The government has guaranteed that the new regulations will not be oppressive, as the National Intelligence Agency (BIN) is unlikely to be granted the power to make temporary preventive arrests. Instead, President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo wants to further empower the police to better anticipate the terrorist threat.
Under the antiterrorism laws, only law enforcers such as the National Police are allowed to detain suspects for one week based on preliminary evidence, which can be obtained using intelligence reports and must be deemed legally admissible by a district court. The police may arrest and detain terrorism suspects before they can commit attacks, as long as the police have enough evidence of a planned attack. However, arrested suspects must be allowed legal counsel, and interrogation with excessive force could render statements made to police invalid.
Jokowi has also demanded a more comprehensive legal framework to root out terrorism. He called on relevant institutions ' including BIN, the police, the Indonesian Military (TNI) and the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) ' to improve coordination in intelligence-gathering activities.
The President has also instructed the Communications and Information Ministry to ban 'radical' websites and to closely monitor penitentiaries that hold terrorism convicts to prevent the dissemination of extremist ideologies among other prisoners.
The recent case of the burning of houses of Fajar Nusantara Movement (Gafatar) followers in Mempawah regency, West Kalimantan, by locals shows that the government has fallen short in monitoring potential conflicts.
About 1,500 Gafatar members have fled their burned-out homes and are being transported on naval vessels. They are scheduled to arrive in Semarang before being sent back to their hometowns.
Activists slammed the authorities for failing to stop locals burning down the houses in Menpawah. This is not the first case where a majority has forcefully evicted a minority from an area due to differences in beliefs. For example, in 2013 Shiite Muslims in Sampang, Madura island, East Java, had to take refuge in another regency because the Madurese did not welcome them and refused to live in harmony with them.
The Home Ministry banned Gafatar in November 2012, just 11 months after it was established in January due to their affiliation with 'deviant' religious teachings. The movement itself denied that it was affiliated with any religion. Instead, they insisted that they acknowledged the state ideology Pancasila.
This country guarantees religious freedom for all its citizens, although only six religions are officially acknowledged. But this case is another violation against humanity, with people being easily provoked into kicking out minorities in different parts of the country. The government has yet to successfully guarantee its citizens' rights.
The other question raised again this week was ' do we or don't we need the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway? It is no longer a question actually as the groundbreaking ceremony took place on Thursday. However, the incomplete land acquisition process for the high-profile project may hamper construction.
Railway developer PT Kereta Cepat Indonesia China (KCIC) will soon inform the public about the land clearance and acquisition for the 142-kilometer track. So far, only 20 percent of the total land for the project ' which will require the acquisition of 600 hectares of privately owned and industrial land ' belongs to state-owned enterprises.
The absence from the ceremony of Transportation Minister Ignasius Jonan raised speculation, especially when reports said that he was busy finalizing permits for the project.
Allegations that the government twisted existing regulations to rush through the completion of the permit procedures ahead of the groundbreaking have emerged.
The Environment and Forestry Ministry's Environmental Impact Analysis (Amdal) assessment team criticized the 'irregular' approval process, arguing that some necessary steps had been skipped, including data gathering, which was cut to one week from six months, and the impact of the construction on water catchment in the Saguling and Citarum areas in West Java. The team suggested that the improper Amdal assessment might lead to future accidents.
The Indonesian Transportation Society (MTI) urged the KCIC to inform the public about the project's impact on water and soil along the route.
For now, the government should tightly supervise the project so it can finish on deadline and more importantly, ensure the safety of future passengers.
' Primastuti Handayani
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